We are only as good as the people we bring into our organizations

The most important responsibility of a manager is finding and hiring the right talent. It is unfortunate that in today’s business world, this is sometimes perceived as a secondary responsibility. I even met a few managers that simply pass on this responsibility to their direct reports. These managers cannot even be bothered to interview job candidates. They do not see it as value added.

The biggest waste of a manager’s focus is not giving enough attention in selecting the right candidate. That is why these managers usually end-up with the wrong hire. They end up with mediocre employees that they will need to exit the company sometime down the road.

Alen, the young Philippine Country Manager of a huge Japanese conglomerate, does not leave hiring to chance. He makes sure that he interviews every potential candidate in his company regardless of rank.

Bringing in the right employee starts with having what we call a sourcing strategy. You simply cannot afford to leave finding the best candidate to luck. There are companies we came across in our consulting work that would focus purely on job ads. It is important to remember that great employees are mostly employed. Good employees are never out of employment. Good employees seldom check job ads. That is why good employees need a nudge or two from their friends to jump ship. Friends that hopefully work for you.

You need to be clear on the competencies you are looking for and where to find them. Another truly mistaken assumption is that recruitment is purely the job of HR. Wrong! Recruitment is the job of every employee. Most often, the best finds are candidates that were referred by someone in the company. In some companies, they even have recruitment as part of everyone’s KPI or Key Performance Indicator. Personally, the best employees I had the privilege to work with were often referred by someone else in the company.

Filtering candidates from the rest of the pack is an important skill for a company to possess. Filtering is best done through a series of interviews. Interviewing is a critical skill and should not be taken lightly. Interviewing should be approached as a dialogue with a great deal of respect for the candidate. Interviewing is best done looking backward by questioning a candidates past experience. It is best approached looking in the past to see how the candidate tackled challenges or circumstances. The interview process needs to check if the candidate already possesses the core values of the company. It is funny to see managers that hire people with beliefs opposing the company core values. You find them struggling later trying to force fit the new employees into the company culture.

There are three additional things I seek for, on top of the normal job required competencies, in a candidate. The first is leadership potential. I seek signs of a future leader. Someone who seems comfortable leading teams, taking accountability and delivering on commitment. Second, I seek for someone that is curious, enjoys learning and reading. Third, I make sure that all my hires are optimistic. Nothing drains a team as fast as a negative team member. Great skills can get overshadowed by pessimism.

Selecting who to hire is a group effort. A person making the decision would at times be biased. Deciding on a hire needs to be a team responsibility. Three views are better than one. Coming into a consensus as a result of a good debate is healthy.

We are only as good as the people we bring into our organizations. Let us make sure that every single person we hire makes a positive difference and adds value to the company.

After all, hiring the right person is the most important responsibility a manager has.