Archive for July 2012

Think Twice Before Promoting Your Best Producer

July 27, 2012

Do the best producers make the best managers? Almost unanimously, when leaders are asked this question, the answer is “no.” Yet too often leaders look for candidates among their best producers and select the best worker for the manager job. They assume that because an individual was successful in their contributor role, that individual will be successful in management, too.

Of course, many great producers can and do become great managers, but this is not always the case. Too often, when a superstar gets promoted to manager, one or more of the following happens:

  • He (or she) can’t let go of his old role. He takes charge of details, undermining direct report’s motivation and confidence and weakening their respect.
  • He manages by results only. He expects everyone to produce the same results that he got, but isn’t good at coaching and giving people constructive feedback on how to get there.
  • He avoids administrative responsibilities. He becomes frustrated by the many routine but important tasks that management requires of him.

Before long, the direct reports he manages stop learning and growing. They become disenchanted, disengage from their work, and may even leave the company.

Before promoting the superstar, treat them like you would any external managerial candidate and put them through your rigorous selection process (make sure they are comfortable with the manager job accountabilities, assess their leadership skills, and seek references from others who have seen them lead).  Superstar individual contributors are often happier and better serve the organization doing what they are doing.

Empower yourself to thoroughly vet a superstar before promoting them and you’ll both be more successful.

Remember Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 When Hiring

July 20, 2012

Stephen Covey’s sad passing reminds us of his popular “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that was published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages.  This iconic inspirational book is as pertinent today as it was 23 years ago. Though Covey presented many lessons to apply to the selection process, the most important is Habit #2: Begin With The End In Mind.

All too often hiring managers get caught up in the details of the selection process and lose sight of why they are making the hire to begin with.  What’s important is finding a way to accomplish the success factors associated with a job.  If hiring someone achieves that objective, great.  If the success factors can be accomplished by some other means, that’s great too.

Don’t assume making the perfect hire is going to ultimately achieve success.  Start by defining what success in the job looks like and recruit, hire, on-board, and manage towards those goals.  A good hire alone without success defined will not necessarily achieve the objective.

Empower your hiring managers to “Begin With The End In Mind,” define success, and you’ll achieve the results you are looking for.

Write a Job Description That Attracts “A” Players

July 13, 2012

Employers often complain that they are unable to fill open jobs. But many are looking for such a narrow set of competencies that no candidate could possibly measure up. Exhaustive job descriptions deter solid prospects who worry they don’t fit the overly specific (or ambitious) criteria. Next time you’re hiring, consider these tips:

  • Focus on success factors, not experience. Don’t itemize every skill the candidate could possibly need. Instead, briefly list the most important abilities required for a person to succeed.  Describe what success looks like (i.e. successful sales candidates will demonstrate the ability to penetrate new geographic markets within 6 months, successful accounting candidates will be able to demonstrate the ability to have closed month end books within 3 business days).
  • Make the title clear. The way you label a job defines who will apply. Use job titles that clearly describe the profession. Don’t use insider jargon.  It’s important to know you might call a position one thing inside the company but advertise for it differently, and perhaps even have a different option on the business card to open the right doors (i.e. you might post an adv. for an Outside Sales Professional, internal call it an Account Executive but have VP Client Relations on their business card).
  • Watch your biases. Be careful not to include requirements that would rule out capable candidates who don’t exactly match the ideal in your head.  Let the success factors weed out the candidates not arbitrary requirements.  You may think a position requires 5-8 years experience and a Bachelor’s degree in a particular field, but if someone with 3 years experience with a different degree can demonstrate previous success, would you really want to exclude them from even sending you a resume or expressing interest?

It’s also helpful to spend some time beating up what experience or education a candidate MUST bring with them, versus what can be acquired on the job in a reasonable amount of time. Remember finding someone who has the right healthy skills and culture fit with the basic hard skills may be a better investment than those who have all the hard skills but are a lousy culture fit.

source: Management Tip of the Day, Harvard Business Review

Include Core Values Into Your Selection Process

July 6, 2012

In his recent book “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business,” Patrick Lencioni describes how a legendary company screens for their their core values.  The company’s culture is built around a healthy sense of self-deprecation and humility. When candidates come in for interviews, they typically wear classic business suits, starch shirts and ties.  The male candidates are asked to exchange their suit pants for khaki shorts and complete the remainder of the interview (which includes a tour of headquarters) wearing the shorts.  The candidates in their suit coat, shirt, tie, dark socks, shinny shoes, and silly shorts are demonstrating one of the company’s core values.  Many candidates object and opt out of the process on the spot; others humbly embrace the notion and continue with the interview.

Core values are critical to companies and if candidates cannot embrace them while seeking the job, they surely won’t live them on the job.

Empower your hiring managers to challenge their candidates to demonstrate your core values and you’ll continue to have a successful organization.