Leadership Skills: Hiring

“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.”

– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”  

– Lee Iacocca

HaringOne of the most dysfunctional activities in organizations is the hiring process. Sometimes this process is managed by a search committee…that’s even worse, if it’s not done well. The second dysfunctional process is the annual review. See my post on that here.

Let’s address the situation since most leaders must hire people on a regular basis. For this post, hiring means internal personnel, external support like consultants, and other entities such as board members. Having the wrong person is worse than not having anyone at all. Having the wrong person can cost time, money, and relationships. Having the wrong person may damage the culture.

Here are my 4 steps I teach for designing a hiring process:

  1. Competency: This is the accuracy step. Does the candidate have the skills and experience for the position, or do they have the education and desire to learn? Define their skill and potential to grow. Define a minimum baseline for competency and then determine if that person can grow. Sometimes a candidate is nothing but potential. The wisdom is knowing that they are the best choice. Training and time getting up to speed cost money. Paying a higher salary for a qualified candidate will actually save money and time.
  2. Clarity: This is the affirmation step. Once the candidate passes the competency step, then it’s important to meet them in person and to understand how they think. Ask open-ended questions that reveal how the person thinks creatively or analytically, solves problems, and turns concepts into processes. This is the time to understand who the person is and how they process information. Ask good questions that reveal what you need to know and listen carefully to the answers. By the way, observing mannerisms and emotions and expressions is priceless, as well.
  3. Commitment: This is the alignment step. This is the step following which the job offer is extended. You will have completed the background check and called the references. Review the responses from step two and talk about values and principles. Share your organizational values and guiding principles to see if you are in alignment. Make the job offer and define the key dates moving forward. Have an offer letter ready to share.
  4. Connection: This is the assimilation step. You have the best person for the position; now be sure that they have the best chance to succeed. This process should take 60-90 days with weekly check-in points. Involve other members of the organization in the process and be transparent about the process. Encourage the new person to be open about their challenges. Typically there is a 90-day trial period for new hires. Be sure to monitor the time and validate that the person has finished the trial period and is now a permanent employee…or not.

Leaving out any step sets the leader up for missing an important piece of information. It’s not worth skipping any of these steps. Building a high-performing culture depends on hiring the best.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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