Get your people decisions right

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A critical part of a senior leader’s day to day work is managing people and this includes making hiring and staffing decisions that enable an organisation to realise its goals. And yet how often do these decisions turn out to be right or at the very least average versus absolute failures?

Every person (and role) matters in an organisation. They each bring their own unique skills and competencies that collectively are integral to a company’s success. No decisions are as important as bringing the right people together in the right roles, or alternatively, have the most long lasting consequences if made incorrectly.

Here are some tips on how to get your people decisions right when hiring or promoting talent.

Be clear on your talent strategy
Set out your expectations for every role within your organisation, at all levels. To achieve this, you need to start with your wider company goals which give you the guidelines for what matters to your business and where you are headed. It’s the people (roles and individuals) that will help you get to where you’re going. Knowing what needs to be done by whom means you can identify the gaps – this may mean building capability within your business, prioritising performance metrics that matter or rethinking succession plans, through to re-writing job descriptions to ensure alignment with goals and bringing in new talent.  

Consider quality and quantity
Recruitment is a time consuming process and quite often there’s a temptation to reduce the talent funnel and only consider those candidates who, on paper, tick all of the boxes. Whatever approach you take for screening and assessing candidates, you need to make sure that at the beginning of the process the right decisions are being made and that candidates are not disqualified based on numbers. In today’s environment, it’s those transferable skills, leadership behaviours and person “potential” (based on what the candidate offers), that need to be considered and sometimes this requires thinking outside of the square.

Focus on strengths not weaknesses
Further to above, think in terms of what candidates can bring to your organisation – what are their strengths and how does this align with what you need in terms of the role. Unless they are a unicorn, chances are they won’t excel at everything and that’s ok. In fact, what makes an individual truly exceptional in one area can also be their biggest weakness in another. Remember that you build performance based on strengths not weaknesses.       

Listen to others
We are all prone to bias and naturally tend to gravitate towards others who share our own personal beliefs and values. Test your own thinking about what good looks like by getting others involved in the recruitment process. If you don’t have a formal procedure in place for recruitment, simply pull together a small group of employees including for example from your senior leadership team, a peer/colleague as well as a senior leader from outside of the function and involve them in the process. You’ll receive useful feedback from these participants as well as being able to observe how the candidate interacts in this environment. This can add time to the recruitment process but if it leads to better decision making then it is certainly worth the effort.

Thinking beyond onboarding
Once you make a hiring or promotion decision your role as leader just begins. It is your job to ensure that the appointee clearly understands what is required of them and that they are given the right level of support and guidance to achieve success in their role. If this is not provided then you can’t blame the individual for poor performance.  

And most importantly, don’t rush any people decisions. Hire slow and put the effort into making the right decisions. People decisions are long lasting in their consequences and difficult to unmake.   

The Decipher Team     

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