Why questions without answers are the most telling

We’ve all tackled that mountain called the hiring process, hoping for a guru who will answer what no one else has: How can you evaluate a candidate without asking questions you’re not “allowed” to ask? What about assessing a potential hire’s track record without meaningful references? Are interviewees giving honest answers? Will our organization’s standards and expectations be met by a prospective employee? 

It’s time to stop chasing after questions that no longer have good answers. It’s time to be your own guru.

The fact is, hiring is just different now, which is why the traditional hiring paradigm must be retooled to produce a workforce that in fact, works. Case in point: In 2018, Our Lady of the Wayside interviewed 800 people, of which 250 were hired. After one year, we retained approximately one-third of the 250. In the end, of the 800 candidates interviewed, ultimately 700 of them didn’t work out, making 2018 a very good year.

That’s a very good year? Absolutely. Last year, Wayside added nearly 100 high-quality staff members to the organization, and I have every confidence that 2019 will be even better. Here’s why.

  •   Bold strokes. One of the most important ways we’ve reframed our thinking is to embolden ourselves to ask tough questions and be fully prepared to work through tough answers. This mindset minimizes mistakes, helps us identify when important boundaries and bright lines need to be established and ensures that we’re playing from a position of strength.
  •   Raised expectations. The bar remains consistently elevated for the high-quality staff the organization employs, but expectations for our HR and management teams have increased significantly when it comes to creating a culture where employees thrive.
  •   Adaptive systems. With a mission rooted in supporting diversity, it’s hard to imagine Wayside’s staff could be anything different. It’s a big world, and the agency is proud to employ people from every walk of life. The result is systems that have been mindfully adapted to ensure the agency has the agility necessary to cultivate and foster a strong workforce. 
  •   Better discussions. Excellent benefits, flexible schedules, convenient work locations, opportunities for advancement, fulfilling careers. When you have a lot to offer prospective employees, it’s important to make sure the conversation includes dialogue about what they’re looking for from both a work and lifestyle perspective.
  •   Increased accountability. Expecting excellence from your employees requires your leadership team to not only model these expectations, but then takes it a step further with a zero-assumption approach for new hires. Initiating the work relationship in this manner enables you to build the workforce you want from the ground up. Instruction on everything from basic etiquette to formalized professional certifications enables you to lean in later to staff accountability.

There isn’t an organization that isn’t looking to fill essential positions, as evidenced by nearly every professional conversation I have these days. It’s time to be bold. It’s time to be your own guru.

Terry Davis is president and CEO at Our Lady of the Wayside