Category : Consulting
Q: I am hiring a VP of Marketing and I have interviewed about ten candidates. Although they are all very good professionals, I haven’t made a decision yet. With all of the talent out there, I feel that this is the time I can have the very best. I guess I am waiting for the perfect person to walk through the door. Am I being to picky?
A: You aren’t being picky, you just don’t know what you want.
This is the most common problem I see when clients are hiring management talent. Before you begin to look at resumes, you must first spend the necessary time to sit down and analyze what you really want this person to accomplish on the job. Try to think beyond the previous person who had the job but rather brainstorm about the future challenges of your firm.
Include other members of your management team, board of directors and staff in this endeavor. Fast forward to one year from today, and think what you want this person to have achieved after that time for you to think he or she is successful – for you to say, “Boy, that was a great hire I made!”.
Working with a consultant will help you through this challenging work. A good search consultant does more than identify the right candidates, he or she guides you and your staff through knowing what you want, what is best for your organization and helps you ask the right interview questions to get to the truth.
At the VP level, the specific companies, skills and industry experience is less important than good culture fit, work style, creativeness, ability to get large projects finished, and working effectively with staff and management.
The interviews should be extensive and include several people. The next step is references. Be tough and ask direct and probing questions. This is another area many companies do not do as thoroughly as they should. AND THEN, make a decision and give an offer.
The entire process should be focused and well organized. If you show the candidate that you don’t have your ducks in line, it will give them a negative impression. Be bold and be decisive.
Q: As President of a service-oriented company, I have always had a problem with keeping my senior management team. The average vice president only stays for about two years, and then leaves for another company. Recently, I had my HR director perform exit interviews and these leaders say that I am a micro-manager, something I am not aware of. How do I correct this management problem?
A. People become presidents and CEOs of companies because they pay close attention to detail and take a lot of pride in making sure the end product is what they planned it would be.
However as the company grows, the president can’t and shouldn’t examine ever detail of every project. Many presidents find themselves working eighty-hour weeks, making sure that everything is perfect.
By doing that, not only is the president working himself to death, but also she is not developing or demonstrating trust in his/her staff.
The senior leadership team wants to be challenged and given a free hand to manage projects and make major decisions on its own. Some presidents have a difficult time handing over that power because the final product may not be “perfect”. When they do reluctantly hand off projects, they double-check each and every decision the manager makes.
This is called micro-management and it drives managers and the leadership staff crazy. They feel like children who cannot be trusted. They feel like high-priced “go-fors.”
For perfectionist presidents, it is often painful to hand off power to other people. They feel that the risk of not having the result be exactly as they would have it is too big to take.
In reality, NOT handing off important responsibly to talented staff members can have a devastating effect on the company. Managers will not be nurtured, new ideas will not be developed, and the company will be in a constant state of flux as it searches to replace managers that leave.
Take it slow, but gradually hand off major projects to senior leaders. It’ll only hurt for a little while. Don’t second-guess their decisions and even allow them to fail, if that happens. Faster than you think, the group will develop into a strong team of professionals who will thrive with the new, challenging work. You’ll be happier, they’ll stick around and the company will grow.
Q: I have three senior managers who have been with me for several years. They’re all hot-shots and I want them to stay with the company, but lately I’ve been getting the feeling that they are getting bored and antsy. I’m worried they will leave the firm. How do I keep them?
A: The mid-career blahs is a disease that affects most of us. It’s always tough to keep seasoned employees challenged, energized and positive. And loosing them can have a huge negative impact on the company.
Retention of key talent has become a critical issue for growing companies. When new employees come on board, they like to see that the company is dynamic enough to keep the people who made them successful. It’s never good to see an organization that has no managers with tenure in excess of five years.
Here are some quick-hit suggestions that may keep your winners happy and productive.
If you demonstrate that you care about their professional and personal life, they will respond by not being so quick to jump ship when a fast-talking recruiter calls (better watch for them guys