Why Hiring Freezes should be Frozen

Last week, our local police force announced that they are going to spend the next few years modernizing their organization. One of the pillars of the plan is a hiring freeze.

I just about exploded when I heard that.  If a major culture change is prescribed, a hiring freeze is the last thing they need.

Putting the brakes on hiring people has long term consequences.  It ripples all the way back to students choosing their fields of study. We are still seeing the effects of this in the utility sector. There is a big gap in mid-career managers because no one was actively recruiting new graduates for the sector in the late 90’s.

Change requires the acceptance of a new point of view.  Different people react to this in different ways.  Once you identify the people ready to embrace the new view, what do you do with the rest?  Offer a graceful way out, that’s what.

People will self identify as well.  They will take a look at the impending changes and decide to move out on their own.  Organizations lose a lot of good talent when a change is imminent but not fully explained.

So now you have holes created by people choosing to leave and people being asked to leave. If you expect to just spread the work across your existing folks, it will surely take a big toll.  You will see the effects on morale, productivity and an increasing level of drama around everything.

And you are going to need evangelizers.  People who come to your organization because of the changes you are making.  They are already wired to believe in them and to spread their passionate views throughout the organization.

When I add this up, it looks like they will actually need to hire quite a few people.  Recruitment should be careful and deliberate but definitely not frozen.

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