Hire slow and fire fast is an expression heard a lot in business conversations. The idea is to take your time while hiring and cut underperformers as soon as you see that they will not improve.

Maybe it is time to consider getting the hire right the first time?

The fact is, most companies we speak with do not put enough up-front effort and discipline in defining what the role really is before trying to fill it.

Wait a second! Everyone signed off on a job description!

Most likely, that job description is heavy on canned messaging and responsibilities but very light on the enterprise value of the position.

When counseling a candidate on resumes, we place a lot of emphasis on demonstrating their value impact – increases in sales, profitability, efficiencies, special projects and other accomplishments that can be quantified and illustrate their ability to do more than just base responsibilities. Why not craft job descriptions that highlight expected impact and value?

It takes significant effort to define what impact you want to see in each job, how it effects the bottom line, sales, operations and so on. Try this exercise, if a new hire only meets expectations, what impact will they have on the operations around them? What if they perform at 90%? 80%?

You get the idea, right? Now, take the opposite approach. What if they outperform by 10% or 20%?

Here’s the problem.

It is easy to define a failure to meet the base responsibilities in terms of impacting operations around the new hire. It is hard to define the impact a new hire can have if they outperform.

Try crafting a job description that touches base responsibilities and then go beyond ending it with something like “special projects” or “ad hoc analysis”. For instance, a VP Sales description could include something like, “Success is defined by rebuilding our sales team to outperform our top three direct competitors”. Or, “Exceeding industry average growth by top-grading talent levels and increasing client-facing interactions with decision-makers”.

What are the benefits?

Instead of targeting who can perform the responsibilities, you can now define and target candidates with a demonstrable history of outperforming because you defined what out-performance is upfront.

Stop settling for meeting minimums and start identifying top performers who can get your organization to the next level.

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