Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Seat-Warmers

Aug 16, 2019 1 Min Read

We all know that feeling of dread: ‘I need a warm body in the seat so I can deliver the numbers’. 

When someone leaves your organisation, the instinctive reaction is to head straight back out to market with a once-coveted – but now outdated – job description based entirely on the previous appointee. It’s easy to fall into the trap of posting multiple ads and briefing multiple recruiters, hoping to cover all bases and plug the gaps quickly.

The result? According to a study by Leadership IQ, one out of two hires is a mis-hire, with 46 per cent of newly-hired employees said to fail within 18 months, and only 19 per cent set to achieve unequivocal success.

In addition, Harvard Business Review puts the failure rate among management hires at 60 per cent. Deloitte says the consequences of this failure can cost the organisation tens of thousands of dollars, or up to twice the original person’s salary. (Ouch.)

In the meantime, your remaining team are left to pick up the slack. They usually feel hurt and angry at being left out of consultations that will directly impact them. This creates slumps in revenue and dramatic spikes in sick days taken. 

This current way of working is not, well, working for anyone: current teams, candidates, CEOs or recruiters. Hiring to replace a person quickly, rather than taking the time to figure out your organisation’s needs and filling that required role, just sets up everyone in the process for failure.

The need is not for speed

This is why it is imperative that you spend time understanding your business BEFORE advertising in the market.

Once you have figured out and articulated where your business’s real need lies, then you can design an irresistible invitation that attracts only the best candidates in the market that fill that need. 

In this scenario, your line manager maximises his or her time in each interview with highly engaged candidates who are genuinely open to a move. They are not looking elsewhere; they are looking solely at you. Any potential candidate feels courted, not hunted. They are more open to the opportunities with which you present them.

It’s about building quality and relationships, not reacting to quantity and speed.

So to do this, to understand the gaps in your organisation, you need to create a standard recruiting system and process that you will follow – a scorecard – that you will use for each and every candidate.

Score to secure

A scorecard is not a job description, nor a laundry list of requirements. It is a standard grading system used to measure each candidate. You score from 1 to 10 across two categories: role fit and company fit.

To determine the attributes and behaviours you are looking for and what to score against, first you think about the future of the role you are seeking to fill. What would need to be accomplished in order for the hiring manager to enthusiastically re-hire the same person?

Next, write down your benchmarks of success. For example: launching five new products, closing USD1.5mil of new business, putting the company back in the black, or turning around the entire division. This helps to define five to seven day-to-day accountabilities. What will this person actually be doing every day to deliver that degree of success?

After that you can identify the competencies or characteristics required to execute those accountabilities. If one accountability, for instance, is to turn around an unprofitable product line, then the ability to ask insightful questions and prioritise problems for resolution might be necessary.

Finally, you can determine the candidate’s DNA. This means looking for attributes that are hardwired, and rarely change over time. Hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is a big mistake. It’s not a tangible goal, and there’s no science or reliable data behind it. 

Once you have your own unique scorecard in place, you can craft a job invitation that is so compelling, your reader (i.e. your candidate) is so excited at the thought of working for you they dismiss any other opportunities they are presented with.

This is what happens when you banish the ‘bums-on-seats’ mentality and instead, consider: What do the seats look like in your organisation?

Kara Atkinson is an expert in recruitment and founder of SPARC – The Sales Leader Network. With over 18 years in the industry, Kara created her own recruitment business 10 years ago, fuelled by the opportunity to help people continue to build and transform themselves through their career. Kara specialises in Sales & Marketing Executive Roles, recruiting across all industries and business sizes.

Share This



This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

You May Also Like


Best Practices for Effective Strategic Portfolio Management

An efficient and strategic portfolio will help you focus on the most important projects and ensure that all aspects are managed properly.

May 17, 2023 5 Min Read

Super Mario toy figure

The Super Mario Effect | Psychology of Learning

Arun Nagarajah, Co-Founder and CEO of eVULX International and Bob Lim, Product Development Partner at eVULX International discuss the impact of gamification in the workplace.

Sep 23, 2021 63 Min Video

Be a Leader's Digest Reader