Who Should Do The Hiring?

Who Should Do The Hiring?

“Who should do the hiring?” is today’s Myatt on Monday’s question which was asked by a CEO of a technology company. Self admittedly, this particular CEO hasn’t had the best track record of hiring, and at the same time also isn’t completely comfortable with turning the process over to HR. The main difference between the CEO that posed today’s question and many other CEO’s is that he recognizes his shortcomings (recognition is the first step on the path to recovery). It never ceases to amaze me at the number of people who are charged with hiring who possess absolutely no skill at doing so. In today’s blog post I’ll share my philosophy on the best way to hire tier-one talent.

All other things being equal, he who has the best talent wins…The problem is that very few people possess talent when it comes to identifying talent. Identifying and recruiting talent is much more than screening a resume and having a set of standard interviewing questions. There are cultural, personal and compensatory issues among others that need to be addressed in the hiring process. Just because someone has succeeded in the past doesn’t mean that they’ll be a success for your company. Likewise, just because someone has failed in a previous position doesn’t mean that they might not end-up being a top performer for your company. Assessing talent is in fact a talent in and of itself. Complicating matters further is that not all those capable of identifying talent are capable of recruiting the talent by sealing the deal.

While not every CEO should be in charge of recruiting, I also believe that if HR is solely charged with the recruiting efforts for senior management and executive level positions you will have a very weak management and leadership team. Unless your company is a large enough organization to have a Chief Talent Officer, I don’t believe HR is a recruiting function (other than for administrative positions), but rather a compliance and risk management function. It is HR’s function to make sure that processes are implemented and followed, but having a mid-level manager attempt to identify or recruit tier-one senior talent is a recipe for disaster.

The following commentary came from Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft when he was asked about his philosophy on hiring:

“I did all the hiring myself for a long time. No one joined Microsoft without my interviewing them and liking them. I made every offer, decided how much to pay them and closed the deals. I can’t do that anymore, but I still invest a significant amount of time in insuring that we’re recruiting the best people. You may have technology or a product that gives you an edge, but your people determine whether you develop the next winning technology of product.”

I tend to be similar in positioning to Steve in that I believe one of the highest and best uses of time is to make sure that we attract talent for our company and our client companies that provide a strong competitive advantage. I have been either directly or indirectly involved in the hiring of well over a thousand people in my career. I can “sniff” talent a mile away and over the years I have developed a strong reputation for being able to attract people that were often considered “un-hirable.” Moreover I can spot the professional interviewers and posers and can cut them out of the process early on. I must again reiterate that most people don’t have this level of experience or skill and in order to insure that you make the best hiring decisions I would strongly recommend that you follow the practices listed below:

1. Definition: Make sure that you know exactly what you are looking for both in terms of the job description and the profile of the individual most likely to be successful in that role. If you can’t define what you’re looking for you shouldn’t be looking.

2. Timing: There is wisdom in the old axiom “hire slow and fire fast.” Don’t panic and end-up making a regrettable hire out of perceived desperation. Give yourself plenty of runway as you will be much better-off taking your time and making a good hire rather than using the ready, fire, aim methodology and end-up terming the new hire before they eclipse their probationary period.

3. ABH: Always Be Hiring…Never let your organization be put behind the talent 8-ball as great talent is rarely available on a moment’s notice. In the world of professional sports the search for talent often starts during the middle school years long before the potential talent being tracked by the scouts has matured. Your organization should always be on the look-out for great talent whether that talent is still in graduate school, in the military, working for competitors or working outside the industry. Some of the best hires I’ve made over the years were executives that I spent months, and in some cases, years developing relationships with.

4. Identify Your Talent Scout: Look for and identify the person within your organization that has the best nose for talent. Regardless of what position this person holds get them involved in the process. If you don’t have a natural talent scout internally seek outside assistance in the form of a consultant.

5. Team Based Hiring: While I’m not generally in favor of management by committee, hiring based upon a team approach works very well. A team consisting of your HR manager (compliance), your internal or external talent scout (the gut-check), the direct supervisor over the position being hired for (compatibility) and the senior executive who is the best at selling your organization (the closer). Hiring is a team based fashion eliminates many of the typical mistakes that can be made in the hiring process.

6. Constantly Upgrade: I am always looking to upgrade the bottom 20% of my workforce. This can be done through leadership development or via new hires, but at the end of the day I’m not only looking for the next superstar but I’m also looking to weed-out the under-performers as well.

Hiring is a blend of art and science and the reality is that those organizations that identify, recruit, deploy, develop and retain the best talent will be the companies who thrive in the market place. For those of you that wish to read more on this subject I would recommend an earlier blog post entitled: “How To Win The War For Talent.”

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