Hiring for Productivity

An article by the Harvard Business Review smartly argues that hiring well is important for your organization, since losing the chance at the most productive employees thwarts all your other efforts at success.

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So how can you hire well? In short, use your most productive employees to find you more excellence.

It’s not realistic for all companies to hire brand name recruits, but when possible, hire a big name in your industry. Harvard Business School research shows that adding a well-known producer in your industry increases staff productivity and makes recruiting future superstars easier. The concept works even on a small scale: hire someone you know your staff will look up to. They’ll work harder to impress that person, and when you’re hiring next time, you can point to your highly skilled and productive staff as a reason to join a great community.

Even if you don’t have a newsworthy employee on staff, you have a few who are outperforming the rest. And those people are the key to your future success. Bain and Company research shows that the most productive employee in your organization is, on average, four times more productive than the rest. So how do you find these enormously productive people?

Start by assessing what you have. Notice both performance and potential and make sure you’re empowering your employees to do their best work. Potential is untapped but crucial, and performance is quantifiable both in terms of direct results and indirect benefits to the team. If you don’t have a way to measure this yet, start now.

Reward excellence. Is your proofreader just too smart to be contained? Promote her within either the production or copy teams. Designer whose work consistently impresses? Promote to senior designer, give a bonus, or both. And put her to work redesigning your company website or logo so she can have increased say in making your whole company better. These rewards of increased autonomy and responsibility will keep your top performers engaged.

And engaged superstars make it easier to hire more excellent employees.

Have high performers interview new candidates. Use more than the hiring manager to assess and rank potential employees. The members of your organization who outshine and outperform need a say in who joins the team, even if it’s not their team. Just as you use a manager with technical expertise to evaluate the acumen of candidates that HR or a recruiter selects, have your most productive employees take a look, too.

By measuring productivity, rewarding success, and having key players investigate future team members, you can create success that breeds further success.

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