Hiring by a Wing and a Prayer Doesn’t Work!

It’s not good news to start the New Year, 2017 but unfortunately, research is continuing to show that candidates recruited for an executive level role for an organization are failing at rates anywhere from 30-40% after only 18 months on the job. Of those who stay on the job, at least 50% are struggling. So, what’s the problem?

For many of the internally promoted candidates, part of this issue is reported to be the lack of an effective and formal learning process for developing leaders. As well, ongoing coaching and mentoring is known to be minimal at best. Thus, when promoted, many of these candidates do not truly have the skills to perform at an executive level. Not only that, many internal candidates have been found to not fully understand the challenges they would encounter with such a senior leadership role.

External candidates on the other hand, often fail to work with their board or senior executive to establish a set of first year objectives. Thus, they begin to take a direction that is soon at odds with their employer. On the other hand, I’ve seen some new executives conduct only a superficial review of their new organization culture and the readiness of this environment to change. They then turn to their tried and true toolkit and apply a favourite strategy for improvement only to be totally surprised when fierce resistance mounts within the organization.

The result in both cases is unfortunately turnover which can be a huge cost to an organization, up to three to five times an individual’s salary. In addition to the costs for severance, there are also costs in terms of lost productivity, morale, additional recruitment and replacement and costs arising from having to reverse some of the decisions being made.

Yet, in reality, the problem doesn’t start with the candidate, the problem starts with assessing and selecting the right candidate for the job. And with the sophistication of individuals at the executive level, I can guarantee, this is no small feat. That’s why Legacy Bowes Group implements several layers of candidate assessment. While this includes telephone and personal screening, we also utilize a set of psychometric assessment tools to round out and create a more objective candidate evaluation.

Psychometric assessment tools are backed by science and help to provide objectivity to the overall selection process. These tools allow search professionals and employers to quantify the rationale for particular candidates and predict both short and long term success. The tool creates a framework for discussion with the employer about a candidate’s strengths, areas of challenge, their personal character and their working style and how this will impact on the candidate’s leadership within the organization. Overall, the tools act as one additional means of providing an all-round view of potential candidates.

However, once a candidate is selected, an employer needs to work closely with the candidate to set specific one year objectives. Otherwise, the new incumbent can quickly go “off the rails”, so to speak. Goals need to be set using the common “SMART” methodology where goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based.

In addition, many an employer fails to provide sufficient support to their new executive by ignoring the need for an effective onboarding process.

As a search consultant, I find it difficult to learn of a situation where an executive has failed and it’s too bad this event had to happen. Yes, we hear excuses that the candidate wasn’t what was expected and/or they seem to have changed and therefore it is their fault.  To be honest, in my view, the fault lies in the recruitment and selection process itself. Something slipped through the cracks. Perhaps the interview questions were not clear. Perhaps the reference checks weren’t sufficient. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…..

So take a moment and think about your recruitment process. Do you have sufficient recruitment process steps to make a thorough assessment of all the candidates? Are you applying a psychometric assessment tool to round out your findings and provide an objective evaluation of the candidates?  If not, you risk of making a “wrongful hire”….a costly mistake to say the least. 

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