Category Archives: Hiring Talent

Who Is the Quarterback of the Hiring Team?

“I am Derrick’s manager, but Derrick is the one with the opening on his team, a position that has been open since April,” Roy protested. “How can you hold me accountable?”

“You are Derrick’s manager, I hold you accountable for his output,” I insisted.

“But he is the one who hasn’t done his job. He hasn’t hired anyone, not my fault,” Roy placed a line in the sand.

“He is on your team. One of your responsibilities is to decide who is on your team. Derrick is on your team. I hold you accountable. More than that, for this open role, you are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, it is your responsibility to quarterback this hiring process.”

“Well. I have been telling him he needs to hire someone. What else am I supposed to do?” Roy grimaced.

“Derrick is the hiring manager, but you are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, as the quarterback of this process, what steps could you have taken to make the situation better?”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now. Vistage/TEC members get a $100 credit.

His Team, His Problem

“Why should I get involved?” Roy protested. “My team is full. Derrick is the one who needs to hire someone.”

“Is Derrick on your team?” I asked.

“Yes, but he is the hiring manager, it is his team, his problem.”

“And you are Derrick’s manager?” I pressed.

“Yes, I am Derrick’s manager.”

“And Derrick is underperforming?” I continued.

“Yes, he needs to hire someone, and it’s been three months,” Roy explained.

“So, who do I hold accountable for Derrick’s underperformance?”

Roy thought for a moment, sat up in his chair, “You have to hold Derrick accountable, he is the one who needs to hire someone for his team.”

“What if I told you that I thought Derrick was doing his best and it was his manager I hold accountable?”

“Well, I am his manager, but it’s not my hire. How can you hold me accountable?”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Whipping Session

“Armand, I am glad you could make the time to meet with Sam and me,” I started. “I was talking with Sam yesterday about the role description he was writing for the Project Manager position.”

“Yes,” Armand quickly jumped in. “I told Sam that I was tired of some of his projects coming in over budget. I think his last two hires were way off base.”

“Why do you think they were off base?” I prompted.

“I don’t think Sam knows enough about what he expects out of that position. Project Management for our complex projects is a tough job. I don’t think Sam has a clear idea of the critical role requirements. The new PM he hired barely knows how to use our project management software.”

“Armand, do you hold Sam accountable for the output of his project management team?”

“Yes. Yes, I do,” he replied.

“And, which manager should I hold accountable for Sam’s output?”

Armand thought we were going to have a whipping session with Sam as the recipient. Armand was suddenly in the hot seat.

“I guess, that would be me,” he slowly replied.
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

A Bad Hire in the First Place

I let the silence do the heavy lifting. Sam’s rush down the hallway had been intentional, to demonstrate that he was really busy and that I shouldn’t pay attention to the quality of the role description he was about to submit to HR.

“I know, I know. I should spend more time working on this, but I have considerable heat coming from a couple of clients on some field projects,” Sam explained.

“Your project managers aren’t able to handle things in the field?” I wanted to know.

“Well, and we have talked about this before, one PM has only been here for six months and his project is a little over his head. And the other PM is the one I am trying to replace. He was a bad hire in the first place.” Sam’s explanation was turning to protest.

“Just because we have talked about it, doesn’t make it okay,” I nodded. “This is a high level project manager, what is our salary for this position?”

“Seventy-five K,” Sam replied.

“So, you are planning to spend $75,000 and it is not a high enough priority to specifically describe what we expect out of the person that fills that role?”

Sam’s face turned stoic. He didn’t know what to say.

“Tell, you what, Sam. Armand is your manager. I am going to schedule a time with him tomorrow to find out how we can improve on this process. You have one PM who needs to be replaced and one PM who is a little green. Let’s make sure the next PM is someone with the capability to really handle the projects we have. Will you be available tomorrow after 3p?”

Sam’s head nodded up and down, wondering how he was going to get the time to make the meeting.
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

What’s the Rush?

Sam was in a hurry.

“What’s the rush?” I asked.

“I gotta get this job description to HR. We agreed to get the job posted by this afternoon. Short and sweet,” Sam replied.

“Short and sweet?” My eyebrows lit up.

“Yeah, I have been really busy on a couple of field projects. So, I wrote a couple of things down, then added a sentence about – any other duties that may be assigned. It’s not great, but all I have time to get done today. I can explain the rest of the job during the interview. Not enough time today.” Sam stood there, waiting for my response. A wink, or a shrug. Anything that would get him off the hook.

“Not enough time today, or it just wasn’t a high enough priority?” I pressed.

“No, no, no. It’s a high priority, just not enough time today,” Sam hoped I would smile, or nod. Any acknowledgement on my part would be taken as acceptance that the crappy job he did, writing the role description, was okay.
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Every Manager’s Dilemma

“So, how do I get my team of supervisors to spend more time, or at least do a better job of qualifying candidates for those open production roles?” Wendy asked.

“You’re not,” I dropped my chin, coupled with a knowing glare. I waited.

“What do you mean? There must be a way. They have to take this recruiting stuff more seriously,” she protested.

“They won’t. Your team of supervisors is focused on production, they are not focused on building a team. Sure they know they are down a person on their crew, but their primary focus is on production.” I let Wendy squirm a bit.

_________ Manager
______ Supervisor
___ Technician

“But you said that my most important function, as a new manager, is to focus on the team, to focus on who is on the team. How can I do that if my team of supervisors is focused on production and they don’t take recruiting seriously?”

“Indeed. That is your dilemma. That is every manager’s dilemma. The reason your team of supervisors don’t focus on building their team has to do with time span. It is their role to field a team for today’s production, this week’s production, or for the night shift, but the time span of that task, for them, is short.”

“Why do I get the feeling that this is going to end up in my lap?” Wendy looked, then smiled.

“Because, if you have open roles in production, your team of supervisors are the hiring managers, and YOU are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, you have specific accountabilities in the recruiting process, and those issues are longer term. While your team of supervisors is responsible for today’s production, you, as the manager-once-removed are accountable for overall production capacity, efficiency in training programs, employee retention. As the manager-once-removed, I expect you to quarterback this recruiting effort. As the quarterback, you don’t have to run the ball, but you have to call the plays. You have to make sure that role descriptions are written, and clearly understood. You have to make sure that written questions are generated specifically related to the production work that we do here. You have to make sure that we have identified the critical role requirements and that our questions to candidates collect real data about the work. If one of the supervisors on your team makes a poor hiring decision, I hold you accountable for the quality of that decision. It’s all a matter of time span.”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Why the Turnover?

“So, think about who?” I prompted. Wendy was a new manager, grappling with her first days on the job.

“Well, right now, I am the manager of a team of four supervisors. They each have more than two years with the company, a total of twelve years between them. I worked alongside them as a supervisor. I have respect for each of their talents. I think I am all set,” Wendy replied.

“You are all set with your immediate team of supervisors. What about each of their production teams? Are there any holes in those teams?”

“Oh, yes, there is always some turnover, and I know there are some openings that need to be filled right now. Hopefully, they will spend some time each day trying to fill those positions,” she explained.

“I promise you, they won’t. In fact, it’s not even on their radar.”

“What do you mean? If they have an opening, I am sure they will try to fill it,” Wendy pushed.

“Fill it with whom?” I pushed back. “In the role of supervisor, the primary responsibility is production, make sure production gets done. They have a hole on their production team. Find somebody to fill it, please, and fast, because they have production to get out the door. Their focus is production, not hiring.”

“But, it’s their team, they are the hiring manager. As a supervisor, they get to pick their team members.”

“But, their focus is production. When you watch your supervisors, in the hiring process, what do you see?”

Wendy stopped pushing back. Her eyes went to the ceiling for a nanosecond. “You are right. They talk to a couple of candidates for about ten minutes and then pick somebody. They don’t really spend a lot of time. Maybe that’s why those production roles turn over more than we would like.”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

The Question is Not a “What?”

Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.
“Poof, I am a new manager,” Wendy explained.  “I was a supervisor for three years, now I am a manager.”

“And?” I asked.

“For three years, I have been concerned with making sure production got done.  Now, I am the manager for a team of four supervisors.  From now on, they make sure production gets done.  They are in charge of scheduling, buying materials, staging.”

“And, where does that leave you?” I continued.

“That’s the dilemma.  They promoted me to manager, but without a lot of direction.  One of the vice-presidents, my new manager, told me he would give me a couple of weeks to figure it out.  He could have been more helpful.”

“In your new role, what is the one most important area of focus?” I pressed.

Wendy stopped to think.  “I am accountable for the output of my team.  My most important area of focus is the team.”

“Specifically, what? about your team?”

There was another pause.  “It’s not a what,” she realized.  “It’s a who.  The most important thing to focus on, is who is on the team.  If I do that well, my life, as a manager will be wonderful.  If I do that poorly, my life will be miserable, and for a very long time.”

Role Mis-Match?

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

How do you deal (humanely) with someone who clearly is holding an S-IV role, but only appears to have S-III capability?

First, understand that this person is doing their best, and the mistake was made by the manager (I assume that is you) who promoted this person into that role without proper due diligence.

Now, what to do?

Pull out the role description and carefully examine those Key Result Areas that describe decision making and problem solving at S-IV (multi-system analysis and system integration). Using the role description, you can either manicure the role to reassign those accountabilities to someone else or choose to transfer the person to another role which better matches their capability.

The most important part of this managerial move is to understand, the discussion centers around the tasks, activities, decisions and problem solving. The discussion does NOT center around the stratum level capability of the person. This is an important nuance.

As the manager you have the following authority –

  • Determine the level of work in the role.
  • Determine the effectiveness of the person in the role.

As the manager, you do NOT have the authority –

  • To guess the stratum level of capability of the person.
  • To guess the potential capability of the person.

As the manager, you may have an intuitive judgment about a person’s capability or potential capability. You may take action related to that judgment ONLY by testing the candidate against effectiveness in the role (or testing the candidate with project work similar to the level of work in the role). It’s all about the work, not about a number.

Too Expensive and Too Late to Train

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Our company has a critical issue around finding skilled workers. Our community is growing fast and we cannot find the skilled workers we need to meet the demand. We are trying to connect with our community college and state & local job staffers. I am calling on my former company, an economic development corporation to talk about a recruiting program to bring skilled workers to our market. What else?

In South Florida, this phenomenon appeared three years ago in SWOT analysis. Most of my construction related clients clearly identified – when the recovery happens, we are going to run short of qualified technicians and skilled labor.

Two things contributed. First, when the recession hit hard, many immigrant workers (both legal and illegal) simply went home (and stayed). Second, many in our work force discovered air conditioning. Construction trades often work outside in the elements and for about the same money, the fast food industry offered work inside under air conditioning.

This resurgence in the overall economy has bolstered two cottage industries – recruiting and training. There are, indeed, industry associations that focus on this dilemma. The leader is an organization called Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). They have a strong national organization and local chapters in every major and many minor markets. They offer a range of training from basic OSHA certifications to vocational training in specific skilled labor trades.

It’s funny. When we identified this problem three years ago, everyone pushed back and said they weren’t equipped to train or they couldn’t spend the time to train. Training took too long, they needed workers now. But, if they had jumped in with training programs two years ago, there would be a stream of graduates in the market, now.

Others pushed back, saying they could not take the risk of training. They feared they would invest in a person’s training and then have them leave the company. What’s more expensive? Training someone and having them leave, or not training someone and having them stay?