Several years ago, the Director of Development at a nonprofit where I served on the board left to go to a larger organization, “Mary,” the Founder and Executive Director, immediately embarked on a search for the Development Director’s replacement.
It wasn’t long before Mary was excited to present the credentials of the “perfect candidate,” “Evelyn,” to the board. When I questioned her qualifications, Mary responded, “I have known her personally for some time. She is from the community where we are housed, worked for and is still connected to a prominent local politician…. and I really like her!”
Evelyn was terminated for cause less than six months after she was hired.What made this a bad hire?
No hiring criteria
Even though there was a job description, Mary should have clearly defined and prioritized the expectations and critical “must haves” of the role before she began the search. She should have developed a scorecard for the ideal candidate that included the desired skills, key performance indicators and expected outcomes, and examples of accomplishments that would predict success on the job. If she had done so, she might have avoided the bad hire. Instead she let the “Like Factor” outweigh Evelyn’s qualifications to do the job.
No selection and hiring process
Mary did not establish an organized hiring process that utilized other members of her management team and outside resources like an executive search firm.
Managers hate to make bad decisions. The hiring process can become protracted as the result of the manager’s indecisiveness. Great candidates are lost to more decisive managers in competitor organizations. In Mary’s case, she hired her friend Evelyn rather than step out of her comfort zone.
Hiring talent is not Mary’s full time job
Mary is the Executive Director, not the Director of Talent Acquisition. Consequently, she relied on the more common, less effective tools for identifying candidates. Her lack of hiring experience was most likely exacerbated by her daily job responsibilities and in-the-moment emergencies that made it impossible to give her full attention to finding great talent.
The “Like Factor” Pitfall
”I really like her.” All the factors above resulted in a lack of hard data and Mary’s reliance on the dreaded “Like Factor” when she made the hiring decision. If she had taken the time to develop specific hiring criteria, Mary would have had a tool to consistently evaluate her candidates. An established hiring process that utilized other available resources and members of her management team could have drastically reduced the risk of making a bad hire.
How to minimize the risk of making a bad hiring decision
The most efficient and cost effective way to hire a mission critical member of your team is to employ an executive search firm.
Bad hires are disruptive and can negatively impact your career. They affect the productivity of the organization, wasting time and energy. Your boss may view bad hires as a lack of good decision making skills in other aspects of your work. An executive search firm can help you make great hires that will positively impact the organization’s productivity in the short term and your career in the long run.
About Greg Reynolds
Greg is an experienced human resources executive who assists clients in recruiting key talent, building organizational bench strength and optimizing workforce performance by enhancing leadership skills. He is skilled in creating outplacement services that meet the needs of both organizations and individuals affected by reductions in force.
Greg can be reached at 216-224-7434 or firstname.lastname@example.org