Hiring Is A Science and An Art

Guest post by Lisette Howlett:


When we think about leadership and leadership development we rarely think about hiring and recruitment.  Yet one of the most important contributions of a great leader is creating, and sustaining, the organisation for success both now and the future.  Hiring talent, for now and the future, is fundamental to this ambition.  Yet so often, hiring is seen as a painful activity which takes time away from more important matters.  Yet what can be more important than ensuring the organisation has the right people?


Hiring well is, in my opinion, both a science and an art.  The science part is more easily learned, albeit not frequently integral to leadership development and training.  It is concerned with understanding, and executing well, the elements of the hiring process.  Some aspects can be successfully delegated, including elements such as the sourcing of candidates, documenting, initial screening, referencing.  However, leaders need to play a role in the messaging and selection elements of hiring.  Leaders play a critical role shaping the message communicated to potential hires which must be congruent with the leader’s vision for the organisation, or department, and consistent with the experience of current employees.  Playing a part in the selection of the candidate requires leaders to be skilled in interviewing and judgement. Learning how to interview effectively to remove irrelevant bias and get to the truth of the candidate is a skill and it can be learned by someone committed to mastering it.  Making the right judgment is more of an art.  It can be honed through experience and great leaders need to invest time and effort in developing, testing and improving their judgement on a range of factors including hiring decisions.


Perhaps because there is a great deal of system and routine involved in hiring, or perhaps because leaders do not consider this a skill that will further their personal success, many leaders do not invest time and attention in becoming great recruiters.  I believe that they are missing a trick here which results in either missing out on some talent, or perhaps even worse, hiring less than brilliant people into their teams and organisations.


As a contribution to energising leaders to repositioning hiring excellence as one of their key leadership competencies, here are a few thoughts:


·       –   It takes courage and confidence to make a good hire.  To refuse to settle in terms of quality and fit, no matter how much pressure there is to fill the spot to get the work done.  To be willing to take on someone who might, one day, overtake you.  To take a well mitigated risk on hiring someone outside the mold, and more importantly to nurture, challenge and mentor them to be a success.
·       –   It takes vision to know what people, attitude, skills, behaviours, competencies will be needed in the future and to attract these people into the organisation and retain them thereafter.
·        –  It takes integrity to be honest with a potential hire about what is great about the organisation today and what needs to be worked on so that candidates can make an informed choice about joining the organisation and once in it will be able to affirm their decision and not feel that they were sold something that is not quite true.
     – It takes strong critical thinking to be able to evaluate the information presented to you by a candidate and to pull out the important elements and make a determination about suitability for the immediate role, fit with the organisation and future potential.

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