Article: Mentor or monitor - How to navigate a manager’s hiring dilemma


Mentor or monitor - How to navigate a manager’s hiring dilemma

It is a common belief that a senior candidate would be able to adjust quickly and would be able to take over the role compared to less experienced candidates. But is that true?
Mentor or monitor - How to navigate a manager’s hiring dilemma

Raghav who resigned recently was a deputy manager in the IT infrastructure team. Ajay, Raghav’s manager, requested the HR team to hire a senior manager instead of a deputy manager to fill Raghav’s position. With strict timelines for all the projects, he feels a senior manager would be able to take over the role faster and finish the task on time. 

Research in the Harvard Business Review (May-Jun 2019) noted that employers are very picky about candidates. Quite often this trend has been observed not only in sales but also in support functions. When managers don’t find the right candidate, they choose an easier way to upgrade the position. It is a common belief that a senior candidate would be able to adjust quickly and would be able to take over the role compared to less experienced candidates. A senior candidate is a plug-and-play choice, while a junior employee will require additional time and handholding. Prima facie this thought looks logical, however in most cases managers land up paying more salary with no additional benefits. 

Here are some of the reasons which the manager should evaluate before upgrading his vacant position.

  • Agility is the key: In today’s VUCA environment, one skill that stands out is agility. In every project, while experience is surely one of the most wanted criteria a team member should have, agility has no substitute. Dell Technologies’ 2018 research on Gen Z observed that the generation is agile in learning technical as well as non-technical processes. By hiring a younger colleague, the manager can mould them easily and will eventually create a long-term asset for the company. As young employees have aspirations to grow, they quickly adapt and change their behaviour accepting organisational changes positively.
  • Every penny matters: With a plan to hire experienced candidates, the manager will finally land up paying a significant salary to new recruits. A little less experienced candidate will come at a lesser package and eventually reduce the wage burden on the organisation. While this trend of hiring based on experience is prominent in most organisations, senior employees negotiate aggressively and join at a landing cost that is much higher than the benchmark. Also, in case of attrition, the revenue lost due to attrition is much higher for an experienced candidate compared to a less experienced employee. 
  • Retention through a progression: The retention rate increases with a continuous defined progression. Attrition is a cost and wipes out a major chunk of the company’s profitability. Hiring at a lower level allows a clear career progression path for the employee and hence there is stickiness in staying with the organisation impacting lower attrition. Since the highest designation for each job role is defined initially through job evaluation, hiring a senior resource reduces the scope of continuous growth. Quite often with no career growth after 2-3 years, the employee leaves the organisation. While a junior resource can continue to work till he reaches the highest allowed level for that role. This, in turn, reduces hiring cost and also saves time in developing a new joiner for the role. 
  • Maturity comes with responsibility: Many times, managers feel that an experienced and a senior resource will be mature enough to handle responsibilities. While the same can be true for most of the cases, however a perfect hand-holding by the manager can do the trick. The manager can easily train the new joiner as to how the situations are to be assessed by the employee and what necessary steps he should take to resolve the problems. This can be a trade-off considering the last three reasons. 
  • Professional developmental opportunities: LinkedIn workplace survey report mentioned that 94 percent of employees would stay longer if their company invested in their professional development. Most of the time creating a developmental journey for freshers and young employees is easy, considering that senior employees come with their own beliefs and thoughts based on their past experiences. Due to a small lack of stimulation, a senior employee is likely to withdraw faster than a young employee. 

While many at times considering the criticality, managers might have to hire a senior candidate by upgrading the position, this should not be a general approach. Here the responsibility is on the human resource team to evaluate each position and conduct job evaluation to decide the level. 

While conducting job evaluation apart from initiating job matching exercise, the job role should be critically evaluated considering current situation and expected business condition in the coming few years. There is a possibility that the role requirement might have changed and hence the decision should be considered in the present and near future. Past experience should only play a role in benchmarking and referencing. The hiring manager at every point in time should help the HR team to calibrate the role as per organisational and industry standards. Even deciding the industry-standard one should look at companies with similar business turnover. Many at times small companies in the same industry will have higher levels due to hiring challenges being small within competitors. Big companies on the other hand will have lower levels for the same role. Hence the role should be evaluated continuously benchmarking competitors at similar levels. 

Every new employee should be a long-term asset to the organisation. Hence decide to hire judiciously. 

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Topics: Recruitment, #Hiring, #GuestArticle

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