As our clients gear up for a New Year with a new set of strategic priorities, there are lessons learned, one in particular stands out as a “must share”. A few clients that were hiring key positions with some urgency and had received referrals from colleagues. The professionals were available for hire and came with rave reviews by several industry affiliates. The commentaries went something like this; everyone likes him and he has been around – he knows the industry. These are certainly two good reasons to consider a candidate, but they are not the only reasons to hire one! Two recent scenarios revealed the importance of a good selection process; one client avoided disaster and the other found themselves firing a well liked person, twice!
Disaster was avoided when a client accepted our recommendation to consider additional candidates before hiring “the one”. While she gave only schematic attention to defining the role, she did however understand that defining the requirements for success from three critical aspects of human ability would be very helpful to her decision making. This leader knew she wanted the recommended candidate but she was willing to go through a selection process and consider two additional candidates. What she discovered surprised her! The well liked, well networked and well established candidate, would not be the right fit for the role. Information revealed by the selection process saved the management team from great potential stress; they avoided the organizational strain, lost time, and associated costs of re-hire. This leader was relieved to learn there is more to candidate selection than a recommendation from colleagues. Well liked is a personal or Affective attribute, an indicator of relational strength. Industry knowledge, while important, is a Cognitive attribute and only part of the performance equation. What was missing from the recommendations would make or break the ability of a candidate to succeed in the role; his Conative strengths. Conative abilities are instinctive problem solving abilities and they do not change over time. While a colleague may know the general perimeters of a position, they may be unaware of your specific needs and unique requirements for a role and therefore selection information is incomplete.
Client number two was not so lucky. This leader was in a hurry; he decided that a strong recommendation was a reliable method for hiring and he trusted the opinions of his colleagues. Unfortunately the first hire had immediate performance challenges even though he knew the industry and most of the expectations for the role. Feeling fortunate, the client received another recommendation, and this time he was sure the well-liked, knowledgeable candidate would be right for the role. Wrong! Right from the start, the second candidate began to display characteristics that were not only unproductive, they were counter cultural – a double whammy! Needless to say, the second hire is no longer with the company and the leaders have decided they can’t afford another mistake.
Candidate recommendations should be considered, after a role has been defined. Hiring the wrong person is a mutually costly mistake; both company and candidate suffer. Take the time to define the role from all three parts of the performance equation. Then decide whether that someone special is the right fit for the role.