Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and while that may be true, managers hold the knife and fork. Hiring a manager is not like hiring any other employee. Managers, particularly a first line managers, are the conduit through which all communication and cultural changes passes. These are vital positions in any organization so getting the hire right is critical.
If I could ask just one question of a managerial candidate it would be:
“As a manager in this role you will be responsible for leading a team of X people. What specifically will you do during year one to help ensure they each become more valuable to the company and stronger performers overall?”
With this single question I discover the following:
- If they understand a manager’s role in employee development
- Have specific plans for taking performance to the next level
- Are able to adapt their approach to different levels and skill sets
- And bonus points: See if they can expand on the timeline i.e. what I would do in the first 90 days, results for year 1, and next steps.
Too many recruiters and hiring managers fail to adjust their interview tactics when speaking to a candidate for managerial roles. What works for individual contributors and even high-level subject matter experts does not apply to these positions. Sure, having a foundation in the relevant technical space is helpful, but management is its own disciple. Ignore it and you’ll not only risk a poor hire, but one that creates turmoil among the existing team.
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