Recruiting is like planting a tree

Posted by Nigel Wilson on 12 June 2015 | Comments

I was talking with a business contact last week, and he expressed his frustration about the failure of one of his clients to recruit effectively, in particular their unrealistic expectations about new recruits

He went on to explain that this client - like most companies - has a list of key requirements. His criticism of his client was that once he’d recruited his chosen candidate, his expectation was that the candidate would achieve 100% of their objectives.

Inevitably, this led to failure. Rarely do people achieve 100% of what they are expected to do, especially during the first 3 to 6 months of employment

My business contact said his experience of recruiting was to find people who could do the job, who had the appropriate knowledge and experience, and - even more importantly - would fit in with the rest of the team. In other words their personality was right, and their personal values matched those of the business

He said his own recruiting decisions were partially based on facts, partially on third party references, but largely on instinct - gut-feel if you like.

He added that providing the new recruit achieved at least 50% of his expectations during the first 3-6 months, it was his responsibility to bring their performance up, through regular review sessions, and coaching.

It made me think of an analogy to planting a tree. For example, when you buy a tree, you know what you want - what type of tree. You also know how big you expect it to grow, and if it’s going to fit in and blend with the rest of the garden. You choose carefully, and plant it correctly.

And then what? Do you just leave it to hopefully grow?

Of course not. You ensure the tree is regularly fed and watered. You give it support if it starts to look fragile or blow in the wind. You regularly check on its progress. In fact you do everything you can to nurture it. And then you wait. After all, a tree won’t grow overnight, or even in 3 months. You need to be patient.

You can of course have an unfortunate experience, and find the tree doesn’t develop as you would expect. You can take it back, or at least speak to the retailer, or you can just pull it out, and start the process all over again

But this doesn't happen often, providing you select the right tree for your garden, plant it properly, and then look after it.

And if you do all the right things, the tree will gradually grow, and become an important feature within your garden. Sometimes it can become the best or most magnificent tree you have, or form part of a fantastic orchard.

Recruiting people is the same. With commitment, patience and care, they too will grow, blossom and flourish.