Have you ever been on a great team? Have you experienced the excitement that comes from working with a group of people that gets high levels of achievement? I have. It’s a lot of fun! I have been on undefeated soccer and basketball teams. I was on 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams that won many races. I’ve been on winning karate teams. I led a small team of support staff that served thousands of clients. I have been on several teams that studied and researched together. I have been on teams of consultants that helped clients with organizational change. For each team, we experienced high levels of success and we made an impact. Sometimes it was just for fun. Sometimes it was to serve others’ needs. Other times it was about fulfilling our own goals.
I’ve been on not-so-successful teams, too. These teams were ineffective for one or more of several reasons. Some didn’t handle conflict well. (The successful teams had conflict, too, but they handled it well.) Some didn’t have the right mix of skill sets among the people. Some didn’t have effective leadership. Some even had people who actively sabotaged the efforts of the team. There are many potential reasons for lack of success, most of which are about the people.
Recently, someone asked me, “What are the key things I should know about people before they start working for me?” The context of this question is that this leader has been refining his approach to screening leadership candidates for his organization. His philosophy is that it is far more effective to start with the right people than it is to train and develop people once they are in the door. I wholeheartedly agree! Training and development are still important. However, wouldn’t you rather train and develop someone who is already an 80% match to your needs than someone who is only 20%?
So the question is, how do you find the 80%-ers? Finding interested candidates is usually not the problem. Qualifying those candidates can be a very difficult task. What are the factors you need to consider and how do you uncover the information you need?
There are organizations out there that will charge several thousand dollars to answer that question for you. I once served on the board of an organization when we were looking for a new CEO. We had a very rigorous process to determine our needs and filter candidates. One of the final steps in the process was to put the top candidates through a one-day assessment at a HR consulting firm. After a series of interviews, assessments, and work simulations, they produced a rather magical report for us. It contained many amazing insights that helped us make our decision. These services can work quite well. In this particular case, the person we selected is still the CEO more than 10 years later and that business is doing quite well. However, these services are thousands of dollars.
By the way, if you are hiring for senior level positions in your organization, it IS worth the money to use these HR servcies. No organization can afford to churn through multiple leaders trying to find the right one. I’ve seen the cost of the keep-it-cheap strategy. It is far more expensive in the long run, burns out mid-level leaders, and destroys credibility among multiple constituencies. Spending the money to find the right leader the first time is worth it!
So whether you are hiring mid-level or lower leaders, how do you find the 80%-ers without spending several thousand dollars? What factors should you consider?
- Skills and competencies?
- Work experience?
- Talents and strengths?
- Other factors?
What is important to you? How do you filter and qualify your candidates? Even if you are not a hiring manager, I would like to hear what you think is important when selecting people for a position. Please drop me a note or post a comment. I’ll be sharing your feedback and my own take on finding the 80%-ers next week.