Making great hiring decisions

Late last year, I was on a leadership panel at the 2013 U-M StaffWorks Best Practices and Technology conference sponsored by VOICES of the Staff. After our prepared remarks, there was plenty of time for Q&A. In response to a question about how to deal with a challenging co-worker, I talked about the importance of hiring decisions. When I said that the hiring decision is one of the most important ones managers make, if not the most important, there was spontaneous applause. I was pleasantly surprised by that response. I truly believe what I said. I’m guessing that the applause were a reflection of the audience’s personal experiences – wondering why some of their co-workers were hired in the first place or why they are still there.

Talent Compass

During my 30 years in management positions I’ve hired many talented people. Hiring decisions can be exciting and rejuvenating for teams. I’ve successfully turned around performance issues with people who I inherited through re-organizations or when I’ve joined a new organization in a leadership position.  Some of those people still keep in touch and thank me many years later. And yes, I’ve had to move people out when it was clear they weren’t right for the position and organization. These are important yet difficult decisions that no one enjoys making.

As I said that day on the panel, people in leadership can’t know everything that’s going on in their organization or department. It takes boldness for people to come forward and help leaders understand the issues and problems getting in the way – whether they are people or process related.  Someone not pulling their weight, someone who refuses to work with the team, someone whose skills are not at the level needed to do their job.

Hiring someone based on a great resume, several hours of interviews by multiple people, and a few reference calls can be risky. That’s why we have probationary periods.

My philosophy on hiring is to first determine your needs, then proactively source for candidates and as long as you have viable candidates make a decision. There is no perfect person so you don’t need to take months to figure that out.

I made one of those critical hiring decisions a few months ago. With my “no one is perfect” philosophy but being very clear on my needs and having viable candidates, I made the decision in a relatively short timeframe. Happy to say that what I believed was the right decision at the time has been reinforced many times over already.

Finding talent with the right experience, potential and alignment with the rest of the team is no small task. Hiring people who you know can jump right in, learn what they need to, start making a contribution quickly, and be an effective team member is what we all look for.

I will continue to build our IT team with external hires and look for opportunities to grow people from within. I will be looking for talent that has been there and done that, has an eagerness to learn something new, demonstrates a potential and openness to take on new challenges and responsibilities, is not afraid to ask for help from others, willingly helps others, and brings new ideas and thinking into the team.

And of course I won’t take any of my hiring decisions lightly! My team will probably appreciate that even more than I realize.

8 thoughts on “Making great hiring decisions

  1. Fadi Islim on said:

    We have all faith in you and your decisions; it is very nice of you and highly appreciated to share this with us. I really see MCIT team getting more to be known and well recognized.
    Allow me to say making a decision to hire someone is similar decision when you decide to get married to someone (say yes or No). all along you would see good things, but after people change, then ups and downs starts. Hiring someone is a manager decision yes, but after that decision is made, the team needs to support the manager decision and try to support the new employee to get strong on their feet. And if after all the chances no improvement then the staff needs to let the manager know, speak up, and not stay silent.
    Manager don’t know the future, if they knew then we would blame them but other than that they just do the best they can. We live at work more than we do at home sometimes, so we should be friendly and make the best out of it while we are at work, respect each other and work hard to keep the trust was given to us when we were hired. We are a family and we are all in this together.

    Fadi Islim

  2. Jackie Lapinski on said:

    Great article and great timing! My team is hiring right now and we are evaluating candidates. We are so fortunate here at UMHS to draw many very talented, passionate candidates for positions. Thanks Sue!

  3. Janette Raab on said:

    Having worked with Sue in one of her previous CIO endeavors, we continue to reap the benefits of her “good hiring decisions.” Sue built and grew a fantastic team at BWH and they continue to add great value to Partners and BWH. No surprise it’s continuing at MCIT.

  4. Rick Moffat on said:

    I have to chime in and echo Janette’s comments about Sue’ tenure at BWH. While demanding, Sue also brought a human touch to the frenetic and often stressful world of IT operations and management. We had a diverse and talented organization under Sue’s leadership. And…she was Fun.

Leave a Reply