Attention to Talent: Payroll

Liam Hassell - August 26, 2019

While attention to detail is an attribute that underpins any accounting and finance function, it’s attention to talent that must be a core attribute of any Hiring Manager. This blog will look at different functions within the modern finance team to explore how they’ve changed, what’s trending and most importantly, what you must be aware of as a Hiring Manager in trying to engage these candidates.

Today’s focus is Payroll

When did a system become more important than a focus on IQ and EQ in hiring? I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but it seems to be an increasing trend over the last ten years.

This is easily one of the biggest hiring mistakes I see in the payroll field (it’s by no means alone).

Yes, the tools are getting bigger, better, and more sophisticated. However, a tool at the end of the day it just that, a tool. Surely the right person with the right IQ and background in payroll can learn to use the tool as effectively and efficiently as another person within a certain time span? Everyone had to learn at some point, right? Trust me; you would not commission me to paint your portrait over da Vinci, just because I use a certain type of brush.

Hiring based on a system has never sat right with me and I see its detrimental effects on many payroll teams. I have heard countless stories of unproductive, or worse disruptive, people hired into a role on the back of a particular system, one on which they’re often found out to be no expert.

IQ and EQ should be the focus in assessing candidates. Payroll is a profession of high interaction while interpreting and applying often complex rules. It’s also one that has many avenues of entry. Teams are comprised of people from all walks of life and all manner of academic and professional backgrounds before payroll. Assuming your candidate has the appropriate background in payroll (which you can assess), you should remove any unbelievably limiting criteria, such as a system, and focus on a simple proposition:

“Does this person have the smarts and the emotional intelligence required to succeed in my team?”

Ask questions that direct your potential candidates to address the following:

  • Can they get results? (IQ)
  • Are they trainable? (IQ/EQ)
  • Can they problem solve and navigate obstacles? (IQ/EQ)
  • Do they possess drive? (EQ)
  • Can they take feedback / can they provide feedback? (EQ)
  • Can they work well with others? (EQ)
  • Which environments and cultures have they worked best in previously? (EQ)
  • What management styles have they responded best to previously? (EQ)
  • If you are hiring in payroll right now, do yourself a favour; If you are strictly looking for an SAP, Chirs21, Kronos, ADP, Micropay, STOP! Remove the system from the equation and broaden your potential pipeline of candidates now.

    Focus on what works for your team, your broader staff, and your plan for the future. Don’t forget, a critical part of being an effective manager (and a great source of personal satisfaction) is witnessing people grow and develop, and learning a new system is one challenge you can provide a motivated new staff member right away. It is also potentially a selling point in attracting some of the best talent who might otherwise not be interested.

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