Hiring Senior Executive Level Talent Responsibly
Hiring executives, whether they are HR managers or senior level leaders, have the responsibility to “hire responsibly.” What do I mean by “hiring responsibly?” Hiring executives tend to focus more upon the effort of finding candidates and then selecting the one that best meets the company’s success criteria. Most often, the criteria is based upon six factors; job experience, experience within the industry, role competency, diversity, cultural fit, and leadership potential. The first four of these factors are easy to assess but not so for the last two—cultural fitness and leadership.
First, let’s take a look at cultural fitness. Most often, it is assumed that the company has a monolithic culture with a set of defined values, shared vision, common goals, and rituals. This assumption is based upon a very broad and macro view of the organization. However, as we take a more granular view, we start to discover subcultures that are quite different from each other and where people behave differently and have very different beliefs. This invites the questions: What subculture is the candidate being hired into? What is its texture? What is its cadence? What are the appropriate and inappropriate behaviors within this subculture? What rituals do they have? What is its history? What is being expected from new employees in order for them be accepted and embraced? What are the sensitivities of the group’s dynamic? As we can see, there is more than a broad definition of the organization’s culture that contributes in a more determinate way to the success and longevity of new employees.
Second, let’s address leadership potential. Who defines and determines what are the leadership competencies and characteristics required to be successful in the organization? Is it the Senior Leadership Team who sets them based upon a set of broadly defined, aspiring values? Is it the CEO or the individual boss/executive, based upon their assumptions which may be mere projections or reflections of themselves? Is it the group of people who constitute the subculture in which the new hire will need to integrate and lead or influence?
To hire responsibly, the hiring executive must ask and reflect upon the issues and questions raised above, define his or her vision for the role to be filled, establish a hiring criteria that integrates all of the above, share that criteria with all those involved in the hiring process, set an assessment process that should include a pre-hire assessment by a third party, and see that the candidate goes through a series of interviews with those people who are critical to the success of the “new hire.” They include subordinates, peers with a strong interdependency to the role being filled, internal customers, the hiring executive, and the boss/executive who the candidate will report to
When the assessment process is finished, the “responsible hiring executive” gathers all the feedback from those involved in the interviewing process, compares that feedback to his or her own assessment as well as to the pre-hire assessment results, and identifies any gaps or significant discrepancies. If needed, in order to gain a better understanding of the possible reasons for and implications of those discrepancies, and whether the candidate has the potential to succeed in the role, the hiring executive proceeds to gather more discreet data from the interviewers as well as consult with the expert who performed the candidate’s pre-hire assessment.
Once a hiring decision is made, the “new hire” needs to receive feedback from the hiring executive as well as from the pre-hire assessor regarding the results of the process and the pre-hire assessment report, and be able to discuss his or her identified strengths and developmental opportunities.