It’s tough…the people part of running your business, isn’t it? Analyzing market trends, portfolio reviews, and even board meetings can seem easier than ensuring you have the right people selling to and serving your customers.

You’re not alone. The demands of growing your business, regulatory changes, and the pressures of leading your team lead to many of the tired mistakes in hiring and recruiting employees that have been around for decades. I made many of them myself.

Why One-Time Observations Aren’t Enough

In the days before social media, I was head of HR for a local bank. In order to keep our branches fully staffed, we needed to be creative in our acquisition of new employees. One of our best efforts was  “shopping for new employees.” We identified that many of our positions had better pay, hours, benefits, and advancement opportunities than in other industries. Our target was retail employees who had transferable cash handling, customer service, and maybe even a bend toward sales!

Once a week, a member of my team spent the afternoon visiting as many retail establishments as possible to identify any approachable soul who greeted, smiled, and offered assistance. We invited them to explore our opportunities with a small note with details on available positions and how to apply.

Pretty clever, we thought. We gained their attention, which is the first part of hiring well. Then with an interview or two, we hired. We had some success with this endeavor, but there was something lacking in this one-time observation process. They didn’t necessarily succeed in our environment–or to our expectations. What I clearly know now that I didn’t know then, is that our hiring process was incomplete. We spent a lot of time getting candidates and not enough time ensuring they were a good fit for the job and our culture.

Develop Complete Pre-Hiring Practices

Today, I wouldn’t think of hiring someone without additional steps in the selection process. For instance, I’ve learned the power of adding an objective pre-hire assessment to confirm our reactions and provide specific data to use in our interviews. The data also allows us to match the candidate to the job and our culture.

[Tweet ““People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” ~Jim Collins“]

3 Top Hiring Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #1: Ignoring the “bird in hand.”  These are your current employees, who, with training, coaching, and opportunity to try new skills, may be able to step into personal banking, lending, and supervisory roles. New blood isn’t always the most beneficial.

Smart practice: Create internal development and training solutions for your  employees to be most effective in their current role and help them upskill to additional roles. This is also a great recruiting tool, as well as an expectation of millennials.

Mistake #2: The “warm body.” If they are breathing, willing to work, and they accept your compensation package, it does not mean they will succeed. Even the best training can’t turn a bull dog into a Labrador. The more strategic and higher the role, the more damage that can be done by making this mistake.

Smart practice: Be patient with your pre-hiring practices. Compare candidate’s skills, abilities, and experience with the requirements for the job. Do not compare candidates to each other or you can pick the best of the litter and still end up with a dud.

Use pre-hire assessments designed for and specific to the role to provide objective data when evaluating a candidate’s fit and ability to be successful in that role.

Mistake #3: Relying on the “steal.” Focusing too much on stealing employees from your competitors can remove time and attention from other recruiting activity. It seems that commercial and mortgage lenders are the hot pursuit in this trend. The thought is that with the right wooing and more money, they’ll jump ship and join your team. Then the reality of non-competes, damaged reputations, and promises of a book of business that never materialize follow.

Smart practice: Ensure your pre-hiring practices are multi-faceted. While handshakes and promises used to work in the “old banking days,” there is a lot more to consider in today’s world of quick-to-pull-the-trigger-on-legal-action. The hiring process should include multiple approaches to recruiting possible candidates along with a selection process that ensures the right fit.

The hiring mistakes that still prevail in many small financial service companies can easily be avoided with some planning and accountability for hiring the right people. Effective recruiting should be followed by sound selection which includes interviews, pre-hire assessments, and an ability to match gut feel with objective data to make a good match.

Effective hiring practices to select the best fit employees, makes the people part of running your business much easier.

Hiring top performers who will help you grow AUM and your loan portfolio doesn’t have to be hard. Pre-hire assessments or a full salesforce analysis are easy to implement and less costly than one hiring mistake. Contact Nancy to discuss your people challenges in a no obligation 30-minute call. Use our handy-dandy calendar scheduler to find a convenient time.

4 Success Drivers You Need to Know...and Grow


How do you strengthen this "Will" among your sales associates? How does the lack of drive impact your daily life? I discussed this and so much more on a recent virtual training event you can access below. It's valuable information for any business leader who needs to maximize performance of their people to grow their company.

Click here to access the replay.