Recruiting Leaders and Managers
When you recruit any employee for your company, you naturally expect them to have a positive impact on the growth and success of your organization. When you are recruiting leaders and managers, the stakes are much higher. Not only do you expect them to accomplish specific objectives in their area of expertise but you also want them to motivate, manage, coach, and take responsibility for the performance of their subordinates. You also expect them to give timely critical input suggesting improvements to products or services and business processes, and to identify and resolve inefficiencies.
You increase the likelihood that you will get what you need when you follow a well-structured recruiting, interviewing and assessment process. If you follow an ad hoc process created on the fly you are more likely to get what you want but it may not be what you need. To better understand the costs of not hiring the right person, read The Real Costs of Employing the Wrong Person.
Organizations that have high rates of success when recruiting leadership talent consistently follow a comprehensive recruiting process that includes the active involvement of employees throughout the recruiting, interviewing and assessment process. They have recognized that the cost of getting it right the first time is far less than the cost of getting it wrong and having to go through the process again. As John Wooden famously said:
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.”
If your organization is younger, smaller, and growing with limited resources, you may not have been able to create a process that can consistently yield the results you would like. Here are ten steps that will help you create one if this is your situation:
1.Take control of the recruitment process
You, or a designated person within your organization, must take full control of the entire recruitment process. Do not let anyone outside of your organization to take control. If you will be engaging external recruiters to search for, identify, and present candidates, read Carl’s Employer Recruiting Tips: What to Consider When Using Recruiters.
2. Get agreement for what the company needs
Organizations often begin recruiting people by identifying the person they want, such as by asking: “We need to recruit a ……” Begin instead by focusing on what the business needs, such as by asking: “We need (or The organization needs) someone who can …….”
Gather your leadership team together and ask everyone “What functional role does the business need performed.” When you come to a consensus, consider describing it as a mission statement. Then list and prioritize at least three goals or objectives that you and your team agree this role needs to accomplish and by when. For help with this, review Carl’s Employer Recruiting Tips: How to Prepare a Position Description.
3. List the skills, experience, and personal attributes you need
List and describe the skills, experience, education, and personal attributes you believe the new person will need to be successful in the role. Take a hard look and separate the list between what you believe they must have to successfully perform the function versus your preferences for what you would like them to have. Be open to candidates who have skills and experience in a different industry because they are often the ones that can bring a different perspective that you need.
When describing the skills and experience you believe you need, think about how you are going to assess whether candidates can demonstrate they have each of those skills and experiences. Keep in mind that your interview questions will need to address both hard and soft skills. The hard skills may be easier to assess but the soft ones will be much more difficult.
Get buy-in and agreement from your management team. They may have specific suggestions on how to assess the skills and experience you want based on their own experiences.
4. Describe performance criteria
When you describe specific tasks, particularly recurring periodic ones, include expected time frames for completion. This will enable candidates to understand not only what will be expected of them but when. Using periodic performance measurements also allows for a re-evaluation of the issues or challenges that you might not have considered or thought about in the beginning and it enables candidates to thoroughly assess whether they believe they can successfully meet management’s expectations.
5. Do your teams sometimes struggle to make the right decision?
Teams containing members who all think alike often keep repeating the same mistakes. Teams containing members who do not all think alike often have difficulty working together because they do not understand why others do not think like they do. Teams that consistently make good decisions include members who have different thinking styles and have learned how to get the most from each other when others do not think like they do.
If your organization seems stuck in a conventional or entrenched way of thinking, recruiting a leader or manager is the ideal time to bring on someone that can add a different perspective. To understand why this tends to happen and how to resolve it, review Carl’s Employer Recruiting Tips: How Teams Make Better Decisions.
6. Design interviews that confirm skills and experience and highlight accomplishments
Craft your interview questions to find out how candidates have achieved, accomplished, or dealt with specific issues and challenges from their past experience. Use behavioral-type questions that elicit responses that identify a candidate’s actual past behavior by describing in detail how they dealt with each issue. Asking candidates how they would deal with them if confronted with them hypothetically will ensure you hear what they want you to hear. For help with creating your interview questions, review Carl’s Employer Recruiting Tips: Interview Techniques for Leaders and Managers.
7. Two heads are better than one when interviewing
Assign two people to work together when conducting interviews and assessing candidates. Consider separating your interviews into two sessions. The first one should focus on hard skills. Those are the ones that each person must possess. The second one should focus on soft skills. These are the ones that require careful consideration and can best be assessed in a second session that might be limited to only those who have the skills and experience that match what the organization needs. For help with structuring interviews for leaders and managers, review Carl’s Employer Recruiting Tips: Interview Techniques for Leaders and Managers.
8. Supplemental candidate assessments
You may want to consider additional assessments, such as asking candidates to make a presentation to explain how they plan to achieve the goals and objectives set by management, meeting with other employees in a social setting, or spending a day at the company meeting other employees (who were previously instructed to give their feedback).
You can use third-party psychological assessments if they are a standard part of your candidate assessment process and you do not selectively choose them only for certain candidates. Use these assessments only on the final candidate(s) where you would be looking for input about something you might have missed in your interviews and initial assessments. Limit the use of assessments to only those that are designed specifically for assessing potential employment.
9. Confirm the facts
Verify past employment and talk to their references to confirm their skills, experience, and achievements. Confirm degrees and certifications. Review their LinkedIn Profile to determine whether their skills and experience on their profile matches what they show on their resume and are consistent with your interview notes. Are any references on their LinkedIn profile disingenuous with what the candidate has told you? Perform background and credit checks. Perform a Google search using their name and past employers to see if any issue arises that you may want to pursue further.
After the candidate of your choice begins work, the new employee needs to meet periodically with the person they report to so they can debrief on their status on a regular basis. Their first session should be at one week so they can exchange first impressions, issues that arose or challenges that were encountered and unexpected. At this first meeting, a schedule should be established for further update sessions so the dates and structure of the sessions are known by everyone who will be involved in the sessions.
Future discussions should compare planned activities with outcomes. Seek input from others on the management team or elsewhere within the organization to get feedback on progress. The first few months is a critical time. Active and frequent communication with the new employee makes it a win-win for both the organization and the new employee.