Practical Steps to Employee Selection
While keeping within the law, who an employer hires is pretty much her determination--but one that ought not be taken casually. Hiring the right person for the job may be the most critical management decision you will make. Consider the farm manager who lost $80,000 in alfalfa. He had trusted an employee who claimed to know how to bale. Or, the thousands of dollars lost by a hog producer in only three months as a result of hiring the wrong person. Although employee termination is normally an option, it is one plagued with both legal and practical consequences. Once a person is hired, there often needs to be a compelling reason for termination. If an employee is not working out, action must be taken promptly, however. The longer a worker is permitted to retain a job, the greater the potential consequences associated with a discharge (see Chapter 14).Given the importance of employee selection, two chapters are dedicated to the topic. This one describes a step-by-step sequence to selection. We consider such factors as needed skills for the job, the design of a selection process, getting the most out of the various selection tools, and conclude with suggestions on how to bring the new employee aboard the organization.The next chapter illustrates the process of validating your selection approach. An outline of a practical, yet comprehensive, approach to selection follows. You will need to adapt it to your needs and special circumstances.Decide What You NeedStep 1: Determine whether a temporary employee is neededNecessity can often be the catalyst for haphazard selection. When your milker leaves, the choice may be between taking the shift yourself, or hiring the applicant who just drove up to the barn. Such a casual approach sometimes yields excellent results. "A while back I got lucky when I hired someone the traditional way," Bruce Burroughs, of Vista Farming in Merced, recalled. "This person worked out so well that I thought it would always be this easy." But as Bruce found out, good luck runs out eventually.2 Sometimes a new employee is urgently needed. Hiring a temporary worker is a good alternative to employing a less suitable replacement under pressure. Written employment contracts for such fixed-term work may help you avoid misunderstandings and possible litigation when the employee is laid off at the conclusion of this work period.Exceptional temporary workers can be encouraged to apply for permanent positions. You can share with such workers the criteria that will be used to make the final selection decision, and offer additional help and training. Throughout the process, it should be made clear to the temporary employee, as well as other personnel at the farm, that you will hire the most qualified applicant.A temporary employee has the advantage of having one foot in the door and the opportunity to learn what is important to you. Management benefits by having the occasion to better evaluate the individual's performance and personality. The down side is having to disappoint the temporary employee who does not get the job--or the co-workers who were rooting for him. The statistical chances are not high that a temporary employee turns out to be the best candidate once the position is opened. Clear communication will help alleviate possible disappointment but is unlikely to eliminate it totally. At the end, the responsibility for qualifying for the job needs to be the employee's.Seasonal employees, hired without the benefit of a careful selection process, can also be evaluated for future regular employment. The best workers can be invited to return back for the next season. Step 2: Complete a job analysis, description and specificationA frequent sentiment among farm employers is that a good attitude and a lack of bad habits are the most important ingredients in the personal makeup of farm personnel. "Give me someone with a good attitude," they argue, "and someone who will learn...
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