Top 7 Hiring Blunders – And Their 7 FixesBy Bill & Chris Sitter
Article Date: 09-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Clear communication during the hiring process can prevent many mistakes before they ever occur.
There are many reasons why hiring a new manager may result in a less than an ideal match. In the space available, we will reflect on our executive search firm’s observations, explore major problem areas, and outline solutions to help executives avoid hiring miscues.
Problem No. 1: Unrealistic Expectations– by both the winning candidate and his/her new employer (AED dealer or OEM). When there’s a talent need at the leadership level, it’s easy to view a top candidate as Mr. or Ms. Wonderful – one who arrives on a white horse and slays the dragons. Meanwhile, the candidate may feel that the new organization will be Camelot – a company where none of his/her past negative issues exist. Unrealistic, yes – but this scenario is not uncommon.
We call it “the halo effect.” Both sides should objectively evaluate their needs, wants, and ability to deliver so that expectations line up with reality.
Problem No. 2: Missing Critical Skills – will surface in the early stages of a manager’s new career. Companies sometimes fail to clearly explain essential hard skill sets. Hiring authorities assume that candidates have certain competencies based on past career assignments. For example, when hiring a vice president of service or parts, a dealer might assume that a candidate with relevant experience with a respected manufacturer or distributor is an accomplished user of MRP or CRM systems. In fact, the candidate may have supervised those areas without actually using the tools.
The solution is clear: Every hiring process must start with a comprehensive position specificationand the desired qualifications (DQs) must include specifics regarding minimum levels of competency relating to each critical skill.
Problem No.3: Cultural Disconnect – occurs when the potential new hire and dealer have different conceptions of “how things are done.” I’ll give a personal example: When I left a large OEM to manage with an AED dealer I was accustomed to long days and heavy travel, but weekends were free for my family. The dealership I joined had a policy of having management show up on Saturdays. We could have avoided an awkward situation by openly discussing all aspects of the company’s culture and business practices. The more both sides tell it like it is, the less chance of a disconnect.
Problem No. 4: Acceptance by Peers – can be a serious problem, especially when a top gun candidate is hired without meeting the leadership team. Although not always possible (for example with executive level confidential hiring), it is a good idea for finalist candidates to sit down one-on-one with future peers. This benefits both sides and creates buy-in.
Problem No. 5: Misunderstood Reward Systems– Compensation is definitely important; however, we’ve observed instances where the new manager misunderstood key details such as: bonus plans and how they work, pay periods, cost of benefits and coverage details, vacation, and how business expenses and relocation expenses are handled. We recommend discussing issues on a pre-hire basis and including details in the employment offer.
Problem No. 6: Spouse and Family Discomfort with the New Area or Company Culture– Many executive placements involve relocation, which is a very sensitive area for every candidate’s family. Handled properly, relocation can be a positive experience; and for long-term career success, the family must be comfortable. The hiring authority and spouse are encouraged to host the new couple to a pre-hire meal and ideally a visit to their home. The objective is to ensure an ideal “fit”.
Problem No. 7: Haste Leads to Failures – When new hires are evaluated, especially in lean times, there are urgent issues demanding attention, and it is easy to rush to hire the new problem-solver and put him/her to work. We understand the sense of urgency, but seriously encourage executives to take all possible steps to avoid these and other potential blunders.
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