In a thousand boardrooms, the answer is not clear. Why is that?
Over time, differences, strengths and weaknesses all crystallize. Executives adopt positions, which may have changed over time, but now are very fixed. For the same reasons our spouse’s character seems so crystallized after twenty years. Your partner will tell you what you’re like and she will be right. After a decade, key management groups behave the same way. Nobody changes anymore. Mindsets are set in stone.
The phrase, “most people seem normal until you get to know them” stems from the same idea. It’s why the American people liked Obama a lot better before they got to know him. Today, eight years later, about 60% think he can’t deliver. Today, there are more companies closing, leaving the USA than are being created. America the client, hired the wrong executive and is paying the price. Hiring problems are easier to correct before you put someone on payroll.
We’re all faced with the daunting task of predicting how someone will behave one year from now and whether the strengths we see today are real and permanent. I wish the resume and the interview were more connected to the people we eventually hire. When people decisions are correct, a company and a country, flourishes. When we hire, or elect someone for the wrong reasons, the country or a company, flounder.
Occasionally I still read Harvard Business Review but over two decades, HBR has stopped analyzing successful business’ and favors ideological theories about how companies and management methods ought to work, not how they actually work. Self determination is replaced with self absorption. The kind of research which supports actions such as Target Canada, bankrupt after 18 months, paying employees 4 months severance pay. HBR will find the missing soul of any company. I remember a time when after 18 months with an employer, your severance was exactly two weeks working notice.
“Building a team of “A” players”
Harvard Business review, Jan. 2012, entitled “Gilt Groupe’s CEO on Building a Team of A players. I think we can do better, but I’ll address the points below.
“CEO should spend more time on recruiting and managing people than on any other activity.”Agree. Construction companies often surprise me. The president of a company with 300 employees will be in the loop for hiring a project manager. That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t carry equally into other industries. Construction projects are more like campaigns, or movies. Project based, start and finish.
“A senior HR person, should be one of the most important people in the company.”It depends. HR Managers who view HR as a political role should not be in key positions. HR managers who see their role as selecting and optimizing people, can be part of the key management group.
"Your best people are usually underpaid. Reward them with performance pay.”Patronizing, how can you disagree? It may or may not be true, while always popular to say. Every executive can make this decision on their own.
“People leave their jobs because they don’t like their managers.”True. People don’t quit companies, they quit managers. The immediate person you have to deal with on a daily basis determines whether your work life is great or not.
“A reference is more important than an interview or a resume.”True. Add to that, psychographic testing. Resumes tell us if a person “can” do the job. References and tests tell us if the person “will” do the job.
Would you rehire your key executives? I hope yes but chances are you’d like to make some changes. Your spouse? Would you remarry the same person? I hope your answer is Yes!
Keep executives because they “will” do the job. Not because they can.
Wolf Babbel, Partner
Metrik Management Inc.
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