How to Fill the Hole on the Team

From the Ask Tom mailbag – This discussion of the manager once removed in the hiring process has sparked a bit of controversy.

The complete problem/false belief here, as I have seen and continue to read the the supposed solution is:
If the hiring manager or others in many of the situations are making poor decisions, all this comes down to poor training from the higher ups in the first place. So if you were to form a logical assertion that the higher ups are just as poorly trained (if only because they cannot or do not OR fail to train their subordinates) then why would you even assume that the MOR will fix the problem?

Your question acknowledges the failure of most organizations to even consider the value of the MOR in the hiring process. Most organizations, indeed, leave the hiring manager to twist in the wind. The hiring manager is down a player on the team and has a short term focus to replace the player. Any player who fogs a mirror is better than the open role covered by overtime, hole-plugging or work that is simply not being done.

You are also correct that most MORs are also not trained in their role as the quarterback in the recruiting process. Most MORs sit idly by, along with everyone else and watch the struggle on the part of the hiring manager.

So, why is my focus on the MOR as the solution to this dilemma?

You assume that the failure of the hiring manager to make a good selection decision is a lack of training and that if hiring managers were effectively trained, then the MOR could go back to reading a book or drinking coffee. Here’s the rub. It is NOT a matter of training, it is a matter of capability and focus.

A stratum II supervisor is playing a role to “make sure production gets done,” using schedules, checklists and conducting short huddle meetings. The longest time span tasks in this role calibrate out to twelve months and include seasonal fluctuations of production throughout the course of a year. Managing seasonal fluctuations, building to order, building for stock, increasing raw material inventory, decreasing raw material inventory according to the ebb and flow of production are within the capability of the stratum II supervisor. Identifying personnel requirements in this ebb and flow are within the visibility of the stratum II supervisor, but beyond the capability to effectively select. The stratum II hiring manager will struggle and needs the active coaching and perspective of the stratum III manager-once-removed (MOR).

It is not a matter of training, it is a matter of capability and focus. The MOR is playing a role to “create the production system,” using flowcharts, schematics, efficiency studies and longer term planning. The longest time span tasks in this role calibrate out to 24 months. The stratum III MOR is concerned, not only that production gets done, but that it gets done efficiently, predictably and profitably, all the time. The MOR knows that fogging a mirror may plug a hole in the team, but its temporary relief may only bring more problems later. The MOR knows that the creation of an effective recruiting system is more important than filling the one open position.

The hiring manager has no patience for this because their role is focused on shorter term issues, like filling today’s orders. The MOR is focused on longer term issues like making sure there is a consistent and predictable system for filling orders, forever.

Sending the hiring manager to training will not change the focus of the role, nor the time span capability of the stratum II supervisor. In some cases, training may actually frustrate the stratum II supervisor, fidgeting in class, knowing that today’s orders are not being filled.
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