Get the right ingredients to bake your cake!

I was watching Newsnight earlier in the week and there was a report about a poor guy who suffered a major stroke aged only 43. His wife realised that he wasn’t receiving the care he needed to recuperate and when she brought this to the attention of the management, the response was that they were really sorry, but there were no staff trained in working with patients with brain injuries.

The very next item related to Paul Flowers the erstwhile Chairman of the Co-op bank, who allegedly had little or no training in banking, apart from as a junior in the 1960s, he had never worked at that level in business and when he appeared before the commons select committee looking into why the bank nearly failed spectacularly, he didn’t even know the asset value of the company he chaired. Still he had been a local councillor and a Methodist Minister so clearly he was the right man for the job!

The two cases clearly showed that the companies concerned didn’t consider the criteria required for the role. Is it not a requirement to know about brain injuries when you are responsible for the recovery of brain injured patients? or to have a strategic level of knowledge in banking and business to run a £47 billion company through a huge period of change?

Before rushing ahead to fill a vacancy, don’t leave it to chance, don’t think that you can train them later, be clear about the core requirements for the job, your training should be to add value to the person not create them from scratch. Consider what you need in your perfect person not what you had previously.  Be clear about what knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications you need and put together a clear job description and person specification.

In writing your person specification consider the essential criteria is the absolute minimum you need but you can’t do without, so think of it as baking a fruit cake, your criteria is the list of ingredients, if you miss your flour, fruit or egg you have no cake. Your desirables are what adds value and makes it a birthday cake, it’s the icing on top!

When you interview don’t take second best, employing someone is an expensive investment, if they don’t evidence your criteria try again, don’t fall for someone because you like them or someone knows them, it’s frustrating not employing someone after an interview but worth it, believe me as an HR consultant I help companies manage people that are not right for the job too often. Its stressful, time wasting, affects morale, performance and profits.

So the next time you have a vacancy, draw breath, think about what your business needs and remember what ingredients you need to bake a cake!


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