The same manager may be perfect for one company and totally wrong for another. The quality of a résumé is as important as personal ability in a specific context.
WHY A NEW APPOINTMENT WORKS
Creating a perfect match between an executive and a company depends on various factors. These might include, over and above a clear understanding of objectives and responsibilities, the appropriate professional experience and a cultural fit. The executive must have the values and the motivation that chime with the culture of the company he or she is joining. “It is fundamental that the executive has the abilities and necessary competences in order to be appointed in a position that perfectly fits the organizational culture.” Says Roxana Lequerica, Partner, Signium Colombia. “If employers want managers to hit the ground running, they need to ensure a very thorough orientation plan. This would include an understanding of the business and all product lines, an introduction to all relevant colleagues, and some training on the values, culture and vision of the company,” affirms Asad Haider, Managing Partner, Signium Middle East and Pakistan, who goes on to add“companies that have gone one step further and assigned a mentor or “buddy” to the employee, have found it works wonders to help the employee understand how we do things around here” and hence help the person integrate and start to be productive in the shortest time possible.” In the USA, successful candidates have experience in facing challenges that will confront them in their new role. “Examples might be profitably growing a business sector, mergers and acquisition expertise, introducing and rolling out a new product line, or rebuilding a specific function such as the supply chain,” says Glenn Anderson, Senior Managing Director, Signium Cleveland, OH, USA.
WHY A NEW APPOINTMENT DOESN’T WORK
For Ignacio Bao, Chairman of Signium International and President, of Signium Spain, matters are clear “a proper handling of the above factors lead to a successful integration, while a mishandling in some cases might irrevocably damage the relationship between executive and organization.” Chemistry is also an important component. Explains Glenn Anderson, “I had a placement several years ago who went from working at a large multi-billion global business top-down, command culture, to a smaller mid-size company with a flat organization and a team approach. The candidate ultimately worked out, but it took him a few months to adapt to the new environment.” Anderson goes on “if the candidate is moving to a smaller business, he or she must understand the dynamics of aligning with a closely-held company, the need to wear several hats, and the need to get engaged more broadly in the business plan and operations.” For Lequerica, “every new job forces us to reinvent ourselves. Another obstacle we face, is to think that we still belong to the old organization, the old job with the same habits, and many times a new environment requires other perspectives of ourselves. To shorten the adaptation time and to improve the percentages of success, opportunities are not paid attention to in the organizational world,” she says. The new appointee needs to listen closely. Says Haider“the manager has to make more of an effort to understand, listen attentively and understand the new team that he will be working with. The sooner he can do this, the faster he will integrate and be accepted by the rest of the team.”
Assessment exercises provide the chance to determine current levels of competence as well to predict potential. “The interviews allow us, consultants, to have an integral knowledge of the executive’s personal and professional characteristics and his/her capacity to develop in a specific role,” comments Lequerica. Bao elucidates “once the personal evaluation of a candidate has been completed, and both consultant and client feel that the candidate is a good fit, the search consultant begins the process of a 360 degree reference check, being sure to speak with superiors, peers and subordinates from the most recent positions. However, the most important thing is to help corroborate or demystify weaknesses that emerged during the interview and evaluation process by checking references of the most recent and relevant position to the one the candidate is being considered for.” Bao goes on“these processes are universally applicable to all professional sectors at a managerial level.” Glenn Anderson adds“in some cases, criminal background checks and, in some cases, credit checks will also be required.” “Once finalist candidates are identified, it is appropriate to introduce psychometric testing into the process” adds Allan Marks, Joint Managing Director, Signium Sydney, Australia. “This level of assessment will help provide insight and direction for further evaluation either in subsequent interviews or through the reference checking process to ensure a ‘best fit candidate’.” Assessment centers are sometimes used. Haider clarifies“assessment centers are possibly the best indicators of whether someone will be a good cultural fit or not. [This] approach is best used when hiring a large number of positions e.g customer service agents, cabin crew, sales staff, there must be a sizeable group for it to be effective.”
THE CREDIBILITY OF THESE PROCESSES
A good assessment exercise often provides interesting elements to those making hiring decisions. While achieving a 100% perfect fit is clearly impossible, such an exercise can go some way towards indicating how the candidate would perform in the post, and how he or she might develop. For Lequerica, the credibility of these processes is the credibility of the consultant himself. “The ability to understand the skills and traits necessary to fill a particular professional role, as well as a well-developed ‘sixth sense’ regarding the human aspect, is generally something learned by the search consultant over time,” she says. Moreover, Marks adds ”A consultant with a proven track record of placement and strong industry knowledge demonstrates the effectiveness of the search process utilized.” Haider, meanwhile, has no doubts. “It has been demonstrated that just interviews are an inefficient method of predicting success in the job. It may be concluded that rather than heavily relying on any one method, the best selection would consist of a variety of approaches i.e., tests, structured interviews and background and work history references as well as track record.”
WHO MANAGES THESE PROCESSES?
Usually the processes are carried out in-house, using the latest technology tools. “Typically, these tools are on-line tests of managing styles, which give accurate, reliable and in-depth information”, says Lequerica. “However, some clients use their own tools, or external consultants, in order to validate what we come up with,” she adds. “For example, we have an individual who is certified to oversee and interpret a specific assessment tool that is given to all finalist candidates presented to our clients” explains Anderson, “if the client wishes to augment this with additional testing, they may do so.” “Both internal and external need to co-operate and manage the whole process of assessment and interviews in a seamless manner,” comments Haider. Hiring the right person means taking the necessary time and using all the tools available in the decision-making process. Making the wrong choice can lead to all manner of regrettable situations. These might include reduced employee morale, inappropriate behavior, lost customers and opportunities, time and money wasted in training and development. Making the wrong choice may also expose the company to legal action.
TWSM mantra, hire people:
• first with the right mind-set, and second with the right tool-set;
• who have a demonstrated record of life-long learning and its application;
• who love to stay with others and take part in social activities;
• who are passionate and see negativity as an opportunity;
• who have an optimistic mood and are excited about managing their own career;
• who relive negative experiences as a learning and growth tool rather than a personal failure.
Signium International is a global executive search consulting firm, which provides top quality consulting services to national and multinational companies that need to recruit, grow and retain the best leadership talent in their individual markets. Signium International has 44 offices in the main cities of 28 countries, and a team of 150 consultants serving the major markets of the world.
Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Fall 2010