By Meredith Camp
In my last blog, I touched on the roadblocks that exist in many organizations that prevent them from hiring people with great potential but less experience. Since then, a piece was written for Forbes on the good reasons to hire under qualified employees. In his blog the author, David K. Williams, talks about his organization’s open-minded approach to hiring talent. He and fellow Fishbowl executive Mary Michelle Scott developed their seven non-negotiables in hirable traits (Respect, Belief, Loyalty, Commitment, Trust, Courage, and Gratitude). I wholly agree with these as desirable characteristics to be found in any employee, new hire or 30-year veteran of the organization, but I wonder if the notion of hiring those with less experience would work quite as well in the government sector. After all, if the employer’s instinct is wrong (which Williams says is only 1% of the time), the employee can be let go in a private organization, while it is much more difficult to drop or even move an employee in the public space. So while rolling the dice might lead to positive results most of the time, there isn’t quite as much ability to gamble with hiring when using taxpayer money. But I do believe there is merit in looking for those traits in anyone you hire, especially because of what comes with those core characteristics. Here is my take on a brief pro/con list (aka: The Ben Franklin) for hiring the less experienced/high-potentials in the government sector.
- Unlimited growth potential for the employee
- If training is regularly incorporated into the organization, there is no end to what they can learn
- The hire can come up with innovative ways of doing things that can lead to major cost savings for the organization at large
- Red tape a bureaucracy limit change and innovation (and can squelch any creativity and drive the potential employee may have)
- New hires and lower-level employees may not get priority for training, even if they need it
- With all the cutbacks, government staff is getting spread thinner and thinner; if the employee is unable to perform their job duties, they are likely to get lost in the shuffle and not receive the support they need
Inevitably, the success of this higher risk hire depends largely on the leadership within the organization, especially in more traditional, top-down environments. Leaders have the ability to either empower or stifle their employees, and it is usually evident which leader retains more of their staff.
What other pros and cons are there for gambling on a low experience, high potential employee in the federal workforce? What have you found to work or not work when hiring in your organization?