CEO Advice

When Not to Hire

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“Hire in haste, repent at leisure”, or “be slow to hire and quick to fire”: this wisdom on hiring is often ignored by companies when they lose a key finance team member. The immediate reflex is to contact internal and external recruiting resources with the objective of identifying a replacement immediately. This is a mistake, and it virtually always comes with a substantial cost that is invisible to executives.

The world, and every industry we know that has a future, is changing at a rapid and accelerating rate. So are the reporting and analytical needs of every company. And so are the available tools with which to do the work.  So the position description for a newly vacated role should have evolved significantly since the last incumbent was hired. Failing to capture this evolution through an intentional recalibration process is a disservice to the company and anyone who gets hired into the role.

What if the workload of a position that previously required 50 hours a week to complete can be reduced to 15 through the application of available, already owned technology? What if 80% of the reporting or analytical product coming from this role is NEVER reviewed, or never integrated into decision making by the recipients? What if finance group clients—manufacturing, distribution, logistics, marketing, sales, customer service—NEED and WANT specific analysis to manage their business but finance bandwidth is occupied with work that goes unread? And NONE of this, by the way, is the fault of the departing/transferred/promoted employee or executive. Most finance teams are staffed at survival level, and time to be introspective about work content and relevance is in short supply.

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The time to get these questions answered and to operate on them is immediately after the departure or transfer event becomes known. And the good news is it can be done as part of the relatively standard practice of bringing in an outside project resource to gap the role. For this to be successful, however, there needs to be alignment (not conflict) between the company’s interests and the individual deployed to complete what should in fact be a structured project, and it’s another example of where the so called “contingent” consulting model that is so prevalent in this market does not work. We have a process for this and it’s very straightforward.

The alternative carries huge risks and missed opportunity, and is a disservice to whoever you hire into the role. One potential outcome: they arrive, realize they can do the work in 15 hours a week, but because they left a job to join you, they are put into the untenable position of risking their livelihood if they tell you. So they generally won’t, the new hire will be disappointed or bored, early turnover may result, and opportunity will be missed.

If you would like to make the most of the opportunity presented by an employee promotion or departure, please contact us.

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