The Problem with Blame and the Value of Due Diligence

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.
Steve Jobs

​I have written before about the challenges and consequences for businesses when they hire quickly, induct poorly and lead badly, only to blame individuals who are no longer around to defend themselves about what went wrong only to do it all again.

Additionally, I get frustrated when organisations continue to disrupt the careers of individuals, fail to learn from these hiring mistakes then say how difficult it is to find the right people AND have the right to criticise people’s lack of loyalty.

It also struck me how difficult it is for employees to accept that things aren’t going to get better, they are not up to the job (for whatever reason), wait too long and the decision is then taken out of their hands. They can often then blame others for their inability to deliver.

This ignorance on both sides is fundamental in terms of human nature but one that needs to be acknowledged to avoid repetition; one of the best the ways to handle this is through thorough due diligence.

Due diligence on the hirer side (as a minimum) looks like multiple interviews by different stakeholders/interviewers, good questions, better listening, reference checks, behavioural/psychological profiles…

From the potential employees’ side, it starts with insightful questions to the hiring company and line manager inside the recruitment process and then moves outside to other employees, customers and suppliers for validation.

Several years ago I applied for a role that was suitable in many ways, my career had been “disrupted” and I was keen to avoid a similar experience. I’d met the GM, peers and others during the process but also went into one of the depots unannounced to see for myself how the team “rolled”. It was an awkward, difficult and uncomfortable experience for all of us but hugely valuable and actually went a way to me getting the job with my line manager impressed with the initiative – I had 5 great years there and still count the boss I had as one of my best.

Three takeaways:

  1. Most who have been around and reflected objectively have had similar experiences, it is managers and leader’s responsibility to improve recruitment practices that minimise disruption for all.
  2. With recruitment costs between 50% to 150% of annual salary costs there is way too much downside to getting it wrong, due diligence and transparency from both sides is critical.
  3. Whilst ignorance is human nature, “blame” is a terrible word that serves little if no purpose for anyone in anyway at any time, as beautifully said by Robert Anthony, “When you blame others you give up your power to change.”

Charlie Pidcock