tip tuesday-01

Filling positions is difficult. About the only thing more difficult is roller skating backwards up a rusty ladder. And even then, if things go wrong, you’re the only one that gets hurt.

Early in my career, when I was a manager, I didn’t look at the true impact hiring could have on a team or program. Back then, the criteria list was short and didn’t require I really dig deep into the candidate’s true skillset.

Sure, I was an attentive audience member for their initial song and dance they would perform during the general Q&A, but it didn’t go much farther than that.

Often, I would find out their true skillset, or lack of skillset, only after they were hired, and I would know I made a mistake.

This was something that I wasn’t able to pinpoint for years. What was I doing wrong in the hiring process? After much deliberation, the truth finally dawned on me: I was simply hiring and not hiring right. I was focused on completing my job, filling the position, instead of focusing on what influence that position had on the entire organization.

So, I started considering the needs of the team, not just the positional needs. What would this person be bringing to the table? How will they complement and enhance the team? What is their true skillset (soft and hard)? What is their motivation for applying for the position? What is their understanding of the role and the institution? How much homework have they done prior to applying for the job?

Nothing is worse than interviewing someone who hasn’t even bothered to look at your website, has no idea about your data, the organizational structure, the mission, the strategic plan or, most importantly, the students your serve. Well, okay, the one thing that is worse than interviewing these people is hiring them anyway, which I am guilty of.

I have hired wrong many, many, many times and have learned an important lesson: hiring wrong causes unbelievable disruption to the staff, the team, the department and the students. It even causes disruption to the person I hired, because ultimately the wrong person for the job must be let go.

Hiring right is so very important and ultimately, it is up to me as the hiring manager to do it well. While I may never be able to get up that rusty ladder on those roller skates, I am fully committed to always being cognizant of the needs of my teams so I may bring them someone who brings them exactly what they need to succeed.