There’s nothing more exciting than a new employee who fills a much-needed gap in an organization or re-energizes a team. But that doesn’t erase this reality: The hiring process can be a very stressful one, and it often lands in the hands of managers.
The fact is, there are many stressors involved in hiring, says Michael Ireland, president of the Columbia Leadership Group, which develops business strategies and leadership skills for companies. “In most situations, managers are already stressed because their team is understaffed — hence the need to bring someone on in the first place.” And the sheer number of hours required for recruiting and hiring can leave managers stretched very thin. “Adding to that, many people lack the specific skills, planning methods, and tools for effectively hiring new employees,” he says.
Luckily, a little bit of know-how can make a world of difference. Here, six expert-backed tips to help you staff up without all the unnecessary stress.
Often the tendency is to view hiring as something separate from your core responsibilities — something that you can fit it in after your “main” work is done. But Ireland suggests treating the hiring process just as you would any other large task. This means taking out the calendar and reserving dedicated time to accomplish hiring-related tasks, rather than assuming you’ll eventually get to them. (Hint: That’s a recipe for stress.) Another Ireland suggestion: Set boundaries. For instance, you could block off two afternoons per week for hiring, and never let interviews deviate from these time slots.
Newsflash: Even if you’re a manager, you don’t need to do everything on your own, says Sara Daly-Padron, M.B.A., an executive coach and founder of S.D.P. Advisors Coaching & Consulting. When Daly-Padron was a manager, she’d ask colleagues to help conduct initial interviews and screenings with prospective candidates. From there, she’d take the lead. But with the input from her peers and their initial impressions, she felt less anxious and more confident about her hiring decisions.
Another element of hiring stress? The constant follow-ups from people you meet with or screen via phone interviews, necessitating a response. In order to avoid this onslaught of check-ins, Daly-Padron says it’s important to be direct. “If you’re not clear, the candidate keeps emailing you. That just causes more work,” she tells Thrive. Being transparent — for instance, “You’ll hear from us in three to four weeks”— helps reduce the stress of the follow-up.
Sometimes the stress of hiring drags on forever, simply because a manager is waiting for a “perfect” candidate to appear. “It’s vital to stop and assess how long your organization — and you — can keep going without filling the open role. If the situation is critical, managers may need to lower the stratospheric expectations they often assign to new hires,” Ireland tells Thrive.
Note, it’s fine to imagine the ideal hire of your dreams, but also be open to an employee who is simply a good fit, adds Ireland.
As Ireland explains, it’s important to understand that there will likely be a slight dip in your team’s progress while you’re actively filling a role. Try to keep in mind that once you find a great employee and your new hire’s onboarding is complete, the overall performance of the team should spike again. “Few managers grasp this concept,” Ireland tells Thrive, “but the ones that do really have a leg up on managing stress because they’re realistic about what to expect during the hiring process.”
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