Some time ago, in the dim and distant past, when Vistage was known as TEC, we had a wonderful speaker from the USA called Ed Ryan. Ed is an HR specialist particularly in the sphere of recruitment and I have mentioned his strictures many times before.
His particular point, as I recall it, was that the most important factor in ensuring successful recruitment, especially at senior level, was the need to ensure that the individual fitted into and subscribed to the company’s culture.
In other words, was the person likeable? Ed suggested that the acronym of TEC should be reversed so that the most important factor was C for chemistry. E for experience may or may not be relevant and T for technology (whatever function of the business that implied) should frankly be a given. We wouldn’t, for example, recruit a sales person to be financial controller (or the other way round for that matter).
I recall a colleague of mine once recruiting a salesman and I asked him: “What is he like?”
“Oh” he said: “He’s horrible but he will do a great job for us”
He was right; the salesman lasted six weeks and caused chaos and consternation in the business.
I have been banging on for years about the problem of the “terrorist” in a business; the member of the team who, on the face of it is very successful and productive but has an attitude that clashes with just about everyone else. The problem arises when customers start calling and asking that they would prefer not to deal with that particular individual.
The question is always what to do about it. We have found that, although it is painful, surgery is usually the best option. Yes, we may lose something but the change in the atmosphere in the business us usually marked.
It does seem very simplistic to say that we need to like a person before hiring them but beneath all the facade of leadership and management we are merely human beings and we do tend to work better with people with whom we get on.
The whole exercise of recruitment is hedged about with uncertainty. We have to make a decision based on a few meetings however formal and professional and in the end that decision is frequently based on the candidate’s experience and known skills.
The most important factor, that of attitude, is frequently relegated to the sidelines in favour of the safe option of background and experience. That may or may not be relevant whereas the attitude shown by the candidate in terms of drive, enthusiasm and general likeability is manifestly essential.
How often have we heard that “we need to get the right people on the bus”? Defining the “right people” needs to start with “Do they fit in to our ethos and culture, do they and will they get on with others and do they smile more than they frown?”
After that the experts can come in and decide on the best candidate but only after the list has been comprehensively filtered to eliminate the horribles.
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