How to Hire Great Managers

Oct 15 2015

Hiring a manager is a big deal. It takes a lot more complex work to find the right company leader than to interview and hire a receptionist. Treat your hunt for a great manager with care and remember that you’re evaluating potential people who will make important decisions on your behalf. This is not a place to cut corners! Here are our most valuable tips to help you hire great managers.

Always Be in the Hiring Mindset
When you’re looking to hire a manager, the perfect candidate is probably not going to have her resume on the job boards and be an “active” applicant. More often than not, you’re going to have to recruit someone who is not looking for a job. The next time you come across a leader who impresses you, ask for a business card. Jot down a couple of notes about why you liked that person’s management style. File it away for a rainy day. Then, when you’re in the market to hire, start with who you already know (and like). Maybe you can entice that person to make a move, or you might be able to say—“I want to hire someone exactly like you. Who do you know?”

Hire for Management Style, Not Experience
Just because a person has 15 years of management experience doesn’t mean he is a good manager! Hire for results, personality, and judgment. As a leader, you have to know what kind of manager you need. Is this person managing projects or people? What kind of leadership qualities do you need for your team and what kind of management style will work best for your current employees? Ask situational questions to get a sense of how they handle different personalities and work styles. Be sure that you understand how a candidate has taken on a new team in the past—has he been able to retain the majority of strong performers or has there been a lot of turnover as be brought in his “own” people? Consider the impact of style on continuity of your team and its ability to meet customer needs during a transition.

Get Inside Your Candidate’s Head
Ask penetrating, situational questions that are specific to your business, values, and culture. Your goal is to find out what kind of judgment skills your candidate has and whether you agree with how they problem solve, conduct themselves, and make tough decisions. Give examples of real situations that have occurred at your company and see how your candidate responds. Here are a few examples:
• What do you do if you have a strong performer who just doesn’t behave consistently with the company’s values?
• What would you do if one employee told you that another employee was stealing from the company?
• How do you determine that it’s appropriate to give a raise? How do you communicate the decision to an employee and what do you do if she is disappointed?
• Under what circumstances would you terminate an employee on the spot?

Expand Your Search Parameters
In order to strengthen your company, look for managers who will be different from you and don’t hire for convenience. Yes, it’s easy and “comfortable” to keep your search small and local, but that limits your pool of candidates significantly. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your city or town to find great people. If you locate a potential candidate in another state, there are many innovative tools available to help you begin the screening process. Use technology to your advantage—digital interviews (similar to Skype) are a great way to “meet” people before you invest a lot of time and money.

The single best bit of hiring advice we can give is to always be aware of future hiring needs and forge relationships with great people—whether or not they’re in the job market. Whatever you do, DON’T hire someone simply because they have experience and are interested in the job. This is especially important at the management level. If it’s a fast, easy hire, it’s probably not a wise one.

Happy Hiring!


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