It is well known that one of the key roles for executive leaders is getting the right people in the right seats. And, it is clear that this is easier said than done. Here are three strategic considerations to ponder–long before you create a job description, start recruiting, or hire.
First, what is the need in the organization that this role fulfills? Why does it exist? What is the purpose? What does success in the role look like? This is different than the responsibilities or what might be in a typical job description. It is not a list of requirements, competencies, duties, and experiences. Those things are necessary and many experts in your organization exist to help you describe these things. I am not one of them! But, your ability to articulate this organizational need is a very strategic question. This is a great question to discuss with all members of your senior team, as their roles will interact with each other. It may even be appropriate to talk to an outgoing incumbent. Hearing from others on your team—and other stakeholders—can provide a different perspective than yours or HR’s. Learn about the expectations others have for this role, how it complements and differs from their role, and what success looks like. Questions to ask about the role could be: What does this role uniquely bring to the organization? What would happen/not happen if this role didn’t exist? What do customers expect from this role? What do colleagues expect? What do direct reports expect? What do you, as CEO, expect? To determine this, ask open-ended and broad questions that allow people to describe what they WANT and what the organization NEEDS.
Second, what talents/strengths do people need to do this well? Again, this isn’t specific skills, experiences, or credentials. Those can give you an idea of IF someone has the strengths and talents, but they aren’t the same. For example, the role might need someone who can use empathy to influence and inspire staff through organizational transformation. That’s a talent. Experience/credentials might be a bachelor’s degree in psychology, people management experience, and being rated as highly effective in interpersonal skills. Talents and strengths are those things that are unique and fundamental to what you do, better than most. We don’t have a long list of true talents/strengths, though we tend to have a large number of skills.
Thirdly, what motivations and values underlie someone’s desire to take THIS job in THIS organization? Do they have a passion for the product your company creates? Do they love their professional career? Do they have loyalty to the brand of your organization? Are they fit for your culture? WHY does the person want this position, and why now? How does it fit with who they are and what they want, long and short term?
The picture in my head about these three considerations is that of overlapping Venn diagrams. The “sweet spot” for finding the best person for the job is when you find the overlap between the needs of the organization with the strengths/skills AND motivation/drivers of the individual. We don’t always find someone who is in that sweet spot but we need to find the most overlap possible.
Leaders—you have heard that engaged employees drive organizational performance. This is true. What drives engagement is when the talents and values of those we hire are consistent with the work we need done. Your job is to envision as best you can the organizational need of every position on your team. Describe THAT to high potentials for the role and others who can help you identify candidates, internally or externally. Again, IF there is overlap between the needs of the organization, the talents/strengths of a candidate AND their motivations/drivers, you will get the job done well by an engaged individual. The Bailey Group can help you find language to describe the talents and strengths, as well as motivators. And, we can help you articulate the work that needs doing. This kind of clarity is gold!
Oh, and a tip for the high potentials out there: Can you describe for your leaders what strengths/talents you most naturally possess and what authentically drives you? Do you understand the organizational need—and are you willing AND able to meet them? Your self- awareness of (and ability to articulate) these things are equally important as any other considerations and preparation you do when planning your career.