Thursday, October 21, 2010

Refer a friend?

Everyone knows that referrals are the best source for great hires. Makes sense right?

So why do so many companies drop the ball here? Because you want to treat your referrals REALLY well so the employee is happy w/ the experience and the potential new hire is encouraged to refer their friends too and that is hard to do. What makes this hard is that one bad experience does more damage than 10 good experiences. Hire 100 people, ten of them are bound to have had a glitch, or something go wrong….negating the good experiences of the other 90. So, how do you do a bang-up job with your referrals and have a great referral program?

First, the execution must be flawless by the staffing team. Staffing teams are made of people, people are not perfect and here lies the problem. Now, the occasional mistake is not a big deal but continually botch up good referrals and people stop referring their friends regardless of how much they love their job they don’t want to punish their buddies.

Second, most people refer friends in their first 6 months and then never refer anyone again. Why? Because they THINK they don’t know anyone….when they really probably do. A good recruiting team will work w/ employees to help generate good quality referrals…..and as you may have guessed is REALLY hard to do without overextending yourself and falling into pitfall #1.

Third, referrals are a reflection on the person who refers them (say that three times fast!). When someone you really respect sends you a referral who’s a total jerk and make the whole process miserable you start to rethink how much you really like that other person too. The old “If you’re friends w/ that jerk than you must be a jerk too” disease. I’m here to say, don’t worry about it, referrals come in all shapes and sizes. Hire the good ones, treat the bad ones really well so they will say nice things about you and the organization and everyone wins.

Finally, set your incentives properly. Remember the 90’s when people would give away cars? 10K? Well, crazy times meant crazy incentives. Figure out what works with your team and implement it aggressively. Cash? Prizes? Pats on the back? Doesn’t matter as long as the team responds and helps you find great people.

Hiring great people is about doing what it takes to build a great team, referrals absolutely have to be central to any plan you’re developing.

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