Scanning the headlines of business publications, you’d be tempted to think that the most important managerial skill required in the new age of work is the ability to be data-driven. Whether it is referred to as “analytical” or the sexier moniker of “big data,” this is what we are told managers need in order to excel tomorrow.
Other “hot” skills include time management, emotional intellect, the ability to manage remote or millennial workers, or sheer agility. They are each useful in their own way and in certain contexts, but what if there was a skill that had a deep-rooted multiple effect? A skill that is not taught in school or to MBAs, yet has a clear ROI for any team?
So the question becomes: why haven’t you invested in building better hiring managers?
The math is simple. You have a five-person team and you need to replace one person a year. So there’s one opportunity annually to grow your team’s available skill set, and augment what your team can execute on. Let’s presume you have two final candidates. One is solid but traditional choice, a solid “B” player with experience doing the job you are hiring for, the kind that in your recruiter’s mind is an “obvious fit.” The other is a non-traditional candidate who doesn’t quite fit the mold, but brings with her a brand new set of skills and ambition to the role.
Now, there’s no right choice here. In one company, the first person is the perfect fit because they align with the team, will on-board in hours driving value their first week, where the second person will strain against the constraints of the role, leading to friction which can infect the entire team. Picking wrong can disrupt productivity for weeks or even months.
Conversely, in another company, the first candidate will get the job done, but won’t add anything to the team. You won’t lose money, but you are missing an opportunity to grow. The second candidate would be the one who helps ideate a whole new way of delivering client value or spark energy across the entire team.
Turnover may be something you fear or work to fight, but it is a reality. Rather than lament its existence, hiring a new person is an opportunity to establish a vision and culture for the future.
If you have a 15-person team, you could either see a group of problems you have to solve, or five opportunities to steer the boat in the direction of your choosing. In this team, you could try and convince 15 established employees, people who have succeeded in various capacities by doing things the old way, or you could see an opportunity to inject the right spirit and abilities into a third of your team, establishing a core group of people invested in the future who can help the rest of the team see the opportunities in front of them.
But you can’t take advantage of these opportunities if you don’t have hiring managers in place to execute on them.
Do you want to paint by numbers and maintain the status quo, or are you committed to profitable growth?
Understanding how to identify who is really the right candidate for the company, team and role is a skill, one that can be taught, but is ignored by almost all professional development programs. If you can finding, interview and select the right person for your team, you can add skills, grow networks, expand opportunities, and adjust the culture of your team, any one of those outcomes has a clear impact to your ability to grow revenue and lower overhead.
You could rely on the best practice of asking your recruiting team to source and select a handful of prospects based on your criteria. But these recruiters are sourcing for roles across the company. They can’t know the ins and outs, the subtleties of the role and how to spot the differences between a solid candidate and a growth-oriented one. They don’t have the wealth of experience your hiring managers have about what the job really entails and who would thrive in that situation. They can only paint by numbers, but that’s how you maintain a status quo instead of growing. Recruiters are incentivized to hire quickly, not hire better.
So the burden rests with you to establish the right hiring skills with your hiring managers and take advantage in these opportunities.
If you want your team, department or company to grow, it will be through the skills and passion of your talent. The manager with real skill in identifying and attracting top talent has a leg up on their competition, regardless of industry or title.
So isn’t it time to give your managers this crucial skill?