Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - January 5 , 2011

Hire Versus Re-hire

As the economy inches forward in the coming year, you may finally be in a position to add the staff you need to develop additional opportunities and enhance the performance of your bank. Where will those people come from?

There is no shortage of experienced people looking for work in our industry right now, of course. Your first inclination may be simply to re-hire anyone you had to let go when the crisis hit. Your next option may be to look for people who have the most experience, compared to what you can afford.

This is all well and good as long as those are not the only criteria you rely on. The banking world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, and you should be hiring the people you need to build your future, not to relive your -- or another bank's -- past.

In the last issue of Jeff's Thoughts, I wrote about the need to manage continual change. Will the employees you hire this year be people who can change how they do things twice, three times, four times in the next twelve to eighteen months? Will they be responsive to changes in strategy, new directions? Will they support a nimble response by the bank to coming threats and opportunities?

Remember that experienced bank employees bring a past culture along with them. At worst, that is the culture of a failed bank, one that didn't see the recession coming and had to close up shop. At best, that is your own culture ... from a couple of years ago, when the economic climate, regulatory environment, and general business conditions were very, very different.

You need employees who will respond to your bank's leadership, "change heroes" who will embrace changes in strategies and practices quickly and sincerely. A nimble organization not only needs good leadership, it needs good followers.

If you have worked hard to build a new, more responsive culture that addresses today's needs and anticipates tomorrow's demands, this is not the time to dilute that by bringing in people who cannot fit into that new culture very quickly. When you interview those prospective employees, no matter what function they will serve in your bank, you will want to explore:

You may be lucky. You may have an opportunity to bring back someone who was a great employee for you in the past, and will be a great employee for you in the future.

Just don't assume that the one implies the other. Dig a little deeper, and hire for your future, not from your past.