Sometimes it’s good to know what drives or motivates recruiters and hiring managers.Â I love that scene in CaddyShack where Bill Murray’s character thinks like a gopher to get the gopher.Â Well – think like the hiring the manager.Â
Roland Smith gives good advice to hiring managers.Â It’s advice you could use too, in reverse.
Five Rules for Making Smart Hires
By Roland Smith,
With the economy showing signs of recovery, many organizations are speeding up hiring decisions for key roles that stood vacant throughout the recession. For hiring managers, the pressure is on to make their choices count. Here are five ways to make smart hires and avoid costly mistakes:
1. Focus on the future. Many companies probe only the history and current work of their top candidates â€“ and end up regretting it. Though past performance can be a viable predictor of success to come, it’s by no means a guarantee. The skills that got candidates to their current level won’t necessarily get them to the next one. In fact, their previous track record could work against them, blinding them to their flaws or to looming challenges they don’t anticipate. Hiring managers and teams should think hard about what success will look like in a key role â€“ not just today but five or more years from now. Start by understanding the organization’s business strategy and the talent you will need to execute it. Then define the role’s functional requirements and specific candidate requirements carefully and stick to them.
2. Don’t forget about fit.Center for Creative Leadership research shows that companies often fail to consider two crucial aspects of candidates: First, are they a good fit culturally? Placing a brash, young executive with little international experience in a key job in Asia, where tact and decorum are often essential to success, invites disaster. But companies keep making that mistake. Likewise, putting a star from the marketing department in charge of your research and innovation group could cause trouble. These are different worlds, and not all leaders operate effectively in both. Second, what’s the leadership style of your candidates, and would it fit with their function, colleagues and overall context? An inability to build relationships is the biggest reason why promising leaders derail. Also high on the list: poor communication and team-building skills. Assess your candidates’ behavior thoroughly for trouble spots.
3. Dig deeper. It’s tempting to look at your final pool of candidates, with their prestigious degrees and blue-chip experience, and think, “Well, we can’t go wrong with any of these people.” Actually, you can, even when you’re down to a handful of peak performers. It’s critical to look at them closely with the future in mind. Are you, for instance, about to pick a rising star that will jump ship in three years? Will it turn out that your top choice does not want to move overseas, even though you know relocation is necessary? Is the candidate risk-averse or too hasty with decision making? Is the candidate culturally aware or able to adapt to changes?
4.Take your time (but hurry a little). Naturally, you want to move quickly to fill key roles. Every day you wait, important work goes undone. Still, take a deep breath and get all the information you need. You might think, for example, that creating a hiring team of several colleagues will stall your search. Wouldn’t it just be easier to make the final call yourself? It might in fact be easier â€“ but it won’t be more effective. CCL research has shown that hiring decisions driven by a single person prove successful just 36 percent of the time. Group selections are far from perfect at 55 percent. But they’re a big step in the right direction. Involving key stakeholders increases ownership and support for your candidates.
5. Remember to ramp up. Your hiring work doesn’t end when the candidate accepts your offer and gets to work. In fact, this is often where your new talent goes off track. As part of the hiring process, create a plan for bringing your new hires onboard, transitioning them into their roles and further developing their leadership and business skills. They need to understand the culture. They need to build relationships. They need to grasp their challenges and opportunities. None of that will happen on its own, but many companies seem to expect it will â€“ and then wonder why a prized recruit flamed out so early and so badly.
Taking these steps will increase your probability of success but not eliminate risk entirely. Picking good people has always been an art. But there’s science to it as well. Keeping a few oft-overlooked fundamentals in mind can make all the difference for your next hires. Their ability to fit in and drive performance and will enhance your credibility as well.
Roland Smith is a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership, a Greensboro, N.C.-based provider of leadership education to companies, government agencies, nonprofits and educational institutions.
Article reprinted from Wall St. Journal Online