Hiring Is A Science and An Art

post by Lisette Howlett:

When we think about
leadership and leadership development we rarely think about hiring and
recruitment.  Yet one of the most
important contributions of a great leader is creating, and sustaining, the organisation
for success both now and the future. 
Hiring talent, for now and the future, is fundamental to this ambition.  Yet so often, hiring is seen as a painful
activity which takes time away from more important matters.  Yet what can be more important than ensuring
the organisation has the right people?

Hiring well is, in my
opinion, both a science and an art.  The
science part is more easily learned, albeit not frequently integral to
leadership development and training.  It
is concerned with understanding, and executing well, the elements of the hiring
process.  Some aspects can be
successfully delegated, including elements such as the sourcing of candidates,
documenting, initial screening, referencing. 
However, leaders need to play a role in the messaging and selection elements
of hiring.  Leaders play a critical role
shaping the message communicated to potential hires which must be congruent
with the leader’s vision for the organisation, or department, and consistent
with the experience of current employees. 
Playing a part in the selection of the candidate requires leaders to be
skilled in interviewing and judgement. Learning how to interview effectively to
remove irrelevant bias and get to the truth of the candidate is a skill and it
can be learned by someone committed to mastering it.  Making the right judgment is more of an
art.  It can be honed through experience
and great leaders need to invest time and effort in developing, testing and
improving their judgement on a range of factors including hiring decisions.

Perhaps because there
is a great deal of system and routine involved in hiring, or perhaps because
leaders do not consider this a skill that will further their personal success,
many leaders do not invest time and attention in becoming great
recruiters.  I believe that they are
missing a trick here which results in either missing out on some talent, or
perhaps even worse, hiring less than brilliant people into their teams and

As a contribution to
energising leaders to repositioning hiring excellence as one of their key
leadership competencies, here are a few thoughts:

·       –   It takes courage and confidence to make a good hire.  To refuse to settle in terms of quality and
fit, no matter how much pressure there is to fill the spot to get the work
done.  To be willing to take on someone
who might, one day, overtake you.  To
take a well mitigated risk on hiring someone outside the mold, and more
importantly to nurture, challenge and mentor them to be a success.
·       –   It takes vision to know what people, attitude, skills, behaviours,
competencies will be needed in the future and to attract these people into the
organisation and retain them thereafter.
·        –  It takes integrity to be honest with a potential hire about what is great
about the organisation today and what needs to be worked on so that candidates
can make an informed choice about joining the organisation and once in it will
be able to affirm their decision and not feel that they were sold something
that is not quite true.
     – It takes strong critical thinking to be able to
evaluate the information presented to you by a candidate and to pull out the
important elements and make a determination about suitability for the immediate
role, fit with the organisation and future potential.
·        –  It requires decisive action to make a timely hiring
decision and to act quickly so as to secure top talent who have many other
options that they can pursue and will be attracted not just by the role and the
leadership but also by their hiring experience.
·        –  It takes self-development orientation to accept that some attention will
need to be given and time invested in perfecting the science and art of hiring.
·        –  It takes strong communication and the ability
to inspire
others to attract top talent to your organisation in what is
increasingly a tough market for talent, particularly if you are up against
higher profile organisations, or higher payers.
·         – It takes flexibility to be able to reshape roles and challenges to better
meet the aspirations and talents of a potential hire.
·         – It requires managerial competence and empowerment to allow your leaders to
hire without unnecessary interference and to trust in their judgement, coaching
and not controlling to support great decisions.
·          –It takes good judgement to get it right when hiring.

In summary, great
hiring requires all the attributes of great leadership and allows leaders to
leave a legacy which is greater than themselves.

Lisette Howlett is author of The
Right Hire:  Attract And Retain The Best
, a licensed Sandler Trainer located in London Central, and she has
fifteen years of global change leadership and business development experience. Howlett
is called upon by business owners of small and medium-sized companies for
strategy and business development. Her experience includes financial services,
technology, pharma/biotech, manufacturing, IT, media, recruitment and
professional services.

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