Tag Archives: hiring manager

Why They Don’t Want to Help

“But how can you hold the regional manager accountable for a hiring decision made by the supervisor?” Regina complained. “That’s what my regional managers will say. That’s why they don’t want to help. Helping gets their fingerprints on the hire. If it’s a poor hire, they get dragged into mess.”

S-III – Regional Manager
——————————————-
S-II – Hiring Supervisor
——————————————-
S-I – Technician Role (open)

“Exactly!” I replied. “Except, I don’t want to simply drag the regional manager into the mess. The regional manager is accountable to drive the whole process. Just as the supervisor will be accountable for the output of the technician, I hold the regional manager accountable for the output of the supervisor. If the regional manager is accountable for the quality of the decision made by the hiring supervisor, what changes?”

Hiring As a Matter of Opinion

“I still don’t think this is going to work,” Regina pushed back. “My regional managers don’t see this as a priority for them. They think the supervisor should be able to handle their own recruiting.”

“What do your statistics tell you?” I asked.

“Well, out of a workforce of 500 technicians, this past year, we had 176 leave, 83 percent left on a voluntary basis.”

“And your regional managers think your supervisors are capable of driving their own recruiting effectively?”

“Yes,” Regina politely replied.

“I think they are mistaken. The biggest mistake most companies make is, they underestimate the level of work in the task assignment. Underestimate the level of work in the task, and you will select the wrong person every time. In this case, your supervisor is appropriate to be the hiring supervisor, but the supervisor’s manager (the regional manager) is the manager-once-removed from the open position.

S-III – Regional Manager (Manager Once Removed)
—————–
S-II – Supervisor (Hiring Manager)
—————–
S-I – Technician Role (open)

“It is the regional manager who is the quarterback. The Regional Manager is accountable for the output of the Supervisor. That includes the quality of the hiring decision. Only when you make it necessary, will you get the attention of the regional manager.” -Tom

How to Interview for Teamwork

“The new guy just doesn’t seem to fit,” Cynthia said. “Our company is built on a culture of teamwork. He doesn’t seem to be a team player.”

“You hired him. What questions did you ask about teamwork?” I wanted to know.

“Well, I asked him if he thought teamwork was important?” she replied.

“And?”

“And, he said yes. He said teamwork was very important at his last job.”

“What did you expect him to say?” I pressed.

“Well, I wanted him to say teamwork was important, because, to be successful at this company, we have to work as a team,” Cynthia insisted.

“So, the candidate gave you the response you wanted to hear?”

Cynthia was silent.

“Look, teamwork is a state of mind,” I nodded. “It’s like an attitude. You cannot interview for an attitude. You cannot interview for a state of mind. You can only interview for behaviors connected to that attitude. Ask yourself, how does a person, with an attitude of teamwork, behave? Once you identify connected behaviors, you can ask a better set of questions. So, what are some behaviors connected to teamwork?”

Cynthia thought for a moment. “Cooperation, support, listening, constructive feedback,” she replied.

“Okay, try these questions.”

  • Think of a time when you worked on a project where teamwork was critical for the success of the project?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • What was your role on the team?
  • What was it, about the project, that required a high level of teamwork?
  • Describe how the team worked together?
  • What worked well?
  • What went wrong?
  • What did the team do to pull together?
  • What was your role in pulling the team together?
  • What was it, about the project, that pulled the team apart?
  • How did the team respond to that?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What did the team learn about working together from the experience on this project?

“Would these questions give you some insight to the candidate’s attitude toward teamwork?” -Tom

Not the Right Questions, Not Enough Questions

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
You told us not to hope. You told us not to look in the eyes of the candidate. You told us not to make the decision in the first three minutes of the interview. All you told us was what NOT to look for. But, you didn’t tell us WHAT to look For!!

Response:
Look for something that sits in front of our eyes. And yet, we cannot see it.

It is easy to observe behavior AFTER the candidate shows up for work, we can see the evidence of the work product, and we are often disappointed. We made the hire based on hope, based on what we thought we saw in the eyes of the candidate, and made that decision in the first three minutes. We made our decision BEFORE we had any data.

The question is, how do we get that data, how do we get that evidence in the interview? It is, as easy to see in the interview, as it is to see in the work. No, we cannot directly observe, but we can certainly ask questions that allow us to observe through description.

The problem is that we don’t ask questions related to behaviors in the role. We rely on stupid stuff that we, as interviewers, interpret about the candidate. We use trick questions. We try to climb inside the head of the candidate. STOP. Don’t play amateur psychologist.

But, we are experts about the work. We can spot positive behavior on the plant floor or in the field. We can spot negative behavior, and it takes only a nanosecond for us to tell the difference. Why? Because we are competent managers.

Don’t play amateur psychologist, play to your strength as a manager. It’s all about the work. We don’t see the evidence in the interview because we don’t prepare to ask the right questions, because we don’t prepare to ask enough questions. So, we rely on faulty assumptions, like hope. And because we don’t have the right questions, or enough questions, we make the decision in the first three minutes.

What to look for in the interview is EVIDENCE. And most interviewers don’t ask enough questions to gather that evidence. -Tom

The Long Term View (vs the short term fix) on Recruiting

Hiring Talent Summer Camp (online) starts June 20, 2016. Follow this link – Hiring Talent – for course description and logistics. Pre-register today. See you online. -Tom
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Lucas shook his head. “I don’t know. I spend all this time, recruiting, desperately looking for someone to fill the position. I finally find a candidate who fits the bill. They accept the offer, go through training. Then, just as they are beginning to get the hang of things, they decide to move to Phoenix. I have to start all over, looking for someone. It’s like a vicious cycle.”

“So, what are you going to do?” I asked.

“Back to the beginning, put another job posting out there, talk to HR, contact a couple of recruiters. I seem to spend all my time looking for someone, I can’t get any of my other work done,” he complained.

“Sounds like a short term fix,” I said.

“What do you mean?” Lucas wanted to know.

“Finding someone, it’s just a short term fix,” I repeated. “Lucas, you’re a manager. In your role, we need you to think ahead, anticipate. Finding someone to work on your team is a short term fix. What would be a long term fix? If you knew that the best technician on your team was going to quit next June, what would you do, now?”

“Well, if I had that much time,” Lucas began to think, “I could be much more selective about who I brought on to the team. I might step up the training of the other team members to see if one of them could step into the lead role. Heck, if I could get one of my current guys to step up, I could bring on a couple of entry-level interns to back-stop the rest of the team. I would probably start a cross-training program, so that next June, when my best technician leaves, it’s not such a big deal.”

“Now, you are thinking about a long term fix. I would get started today, because, I guarantee, between now and next June, you are going to lose a team member.”

Some Behavior, You Contract For

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
I am a manager in a very busy engineering firm. I have a team of 6 engineers who review and stamp reports and 8 technicians doing field work. Of four new technician recruits, I have three who fit in well. But one, who is experienced and double my age, has become a problem. Everything I say or do, is wrong in his eyes.

In the morning, in our huddle, I will assign work orders along with specific instructions. My new technician will just stand there and say, “that is not how you mean to do it.”

I have had three meetings with him about different issues.

  • Being disrespectful, talking my staff down to the ground
  • Writing nasty comments in our weekly best practices recap
  • Not following work instructions, which has impacted our quality standards (he defends that his method is better)

And now I have a conference scheduled with my boss to explain a drop in our audited standards.

My new team member is in our 90 day probation period, been with us for 4 weeks now, and is basically undoing all the hard work to get the department from a half-star to a four star shop.

Response:
Welcome to the real world of management. This is a hiring problem. Understand that you, as the hiring manager made the mistake, and that is why it is difficult to let go. But, you have to let go. You can now, either move for termination, or live a miserable life as a manager dealing with the drama.

There are four requirements for success in any role.

  1. Capability – ability to effectively process the complexity of decisions and problems in the role
  2. Skill – technical knowledge and practiced performance
  3. Interest, passion – value for the work
  4. Required behaviors – ability to effectively execute the required behaviors in the role

I believe, based on your description that you are dealing with two issues. One is required behaviors. How do you get required behaviors?

You contract for them. And for a team member to willfully engage otherwise, violates the contract.

If I worked in a restaurant, known for a specific recipe of hot sauce, and, as a cook, I decided the sauce tasted better with more ketchup, my term with the restaurant would be short-lived.

The other issue is capability. Based on your description, your team member may have a higher level of capability than is required for the role. Whenever there is a capability mis-match, up or down, you will observe counter-productive behavior. This counter-productive behavior may act out as arrogance, condescension, rebellion or other forms of drama.

But who made the mistake in the first place? You, as the hiring manager. Admit your mistake and fix it. Or be miserable for a very long time.

Results Can Deceive

“Look at this resume,” Karla announced. “This candidate joined his company as a sales rep two years ago and took it through 85 percent increase in growth. That’s an impressive result. That is almost a double in revenues over two years.”

“You are impressed by a result?” I asked.

“Of course. You know what we say, we are all about results. Results driven performance,” she replied.

“I know you are enamored with the result, but aren’t you curious about how those results were achieved?”

“Well, yes, I will ask interview questions about how, but results don’t lie,” Karla proclaimed.

“Results may not lie, but they can deceive,” I said. “Do you think this person single-handed created those results? Is it possible that the company had a great reputation built on a history of customer service? Is it possible this industry was in an up-tick and all the competitors shared the same success? Is it possible that your candidate was just lucky enough to be sitting in the room when all this happened?”

“Okay, okay. I was just thinking if I picked this candidate and it didn’t work out, I could always point to what he did at his last company,” she admitted.

“You have to go back to the role. What are our critical role requirements? Besides, if this candidate was so responsible for those results, why is he looking for a job with us?”

Habits That Contribute, Habits That Don’t

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
You said in your workshop that we should interview for habits. I agree that is important, but exactly, how do you interview for habits?

Response:
Do you know someone who always shows up late for everything? You get annoyed and suggest strategies to change that habit. “Set your watch 5 minutes ahead. Get out of bed a half hour earlier.” Yet this person is still late, every time.

There are habits that we have that contribute to our success and habits we have that detract from our success. Habits are those grooved and practiced behaviors that a person uses to solve problems and make decisions. Habits are a shortcut to problem solving and decision making. Habits create repeated conditions that contribute or detract from success.

But how do you interview for habits. When I examine the critical role requirements, I identify what habits would be valuable, specifically the repeated behaviors that would be valuable. Then interview for those behaviors. Let’s take showing up early as a habit.

  • Tell me about a project where it was important that the team start together each day?
  • What time did the team arrive?
  • What time did you arrive?
  • Why was it important that the team start together?
  • Tell me about a routine meeting that you were a part of?
  • How often was the meeting?
  • What was the purpose of the meeting?
  • What time did the meeting start?
  • What time did the team arrive?
  • What time did you arrive?
  • What happened when team members were late?
  • What happened when you were late?
  • What did you do to make sure that you were on time?

It is important to listen to how the candidate describes the behaviors of others as well as their own behavior. Their attitudes toward being late will be revealed.

I would rather be a half hour early than one minute late.

Required Habits?

“What habits are required for this role you are designing,” I asked.

“Habits?” Robyn replied. “This is a technical position, lots of things to know. I figured I would spend most of the interview, asking questions about how much the candidate knows about the technical part of the job.”

“I am certain there is technical knowledge that is very important to know, and I assume you will spend a good portion of the interview assessing that. But what about habits? What habits are required for this role?” I repeated.

“What do you mean, habits?”

“It’s nice to understand the technical part of the role, but competence will require specific behaviors in solving problems and making decisions. We all have habits that contribute to our success, we all have habits that detract from our success. Habits are grooved behaviors, repeated time after time. Faced with difficulty or a challenge, we often fall back on our habits, even if our habits were unsuccessful in the past. What questions will you ask about habits? What habits are required for this role?”

Pay Now, Pay Later

“I have to tell you,” Brett started, “in the urgency of the day, dealing with all the systems in my department, there is never enough time to really focus on hiring. It may be important, but it ends up as the last thing on my list and never gets started. That’s why we hired someone in HR.”

“The breakdown of any system in your department can almost always be traced to a lack of competence in one or more roles on your team. This shortfall of competence eats up your time, creates unnecessary meetings, literally sucks the life out of your team.” I stopped. “And it can be prevented.”

“How?” Brett wanted to know.

“How do you think? You can prevent a lack of competence in the role before it happens, or you can deal with the mess after it happens? How do you prevent a shortfall in competence on your team?”

“Well, I think that is what we hired the HR person to do.” he flatly stated.

“Here’s the problem. As the manager, I hold you accountable, as a matter of contract, for the output of your team. All crumbs lead back to you. I cannot hold the HR person accountable for any lack of competence on your team. It is up to you and your manager to field a competent team.”