When does the honeymoon end?

Remember those first few days on a new job? You were officially onboarded, and signed a lot of forms. You learned all the basic processes and policies that new employees need to know. And you canstockphoto31122040 onboardinggot the big picture of the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture. Your head is spinning by the end of day one and even week one, but everyone is patient with you. They recognize that it is a lot to take in.

In that early period when you are introduced to lots of people, everyone is so happy to see you. Everyone is offering to help you get up to speed, and do whatever they can to make your onboarding smooth.

And then you realize they all need something from you. They all think you can solve all the problems. But you are still given some time before you start waving your magic wand.

You’re on a honeymoon. It will be measured in days or weeks but usually not months. You must drink from the firehose, get to know all the key people and start adding value. “Proving yourself,” as they say.

You may have relocated, so you’re also getting to know your new town.

It can be exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time. Continue reading

Puppies and rainbows

“You need to go beyond puppies and rainbows”. That’s the advice this week from a search firm expert. I’m part of the search committee for the new president of a non-profit organization where I am a board canstockphoto15113488member. The search expert was telling us to go deeper in our questioning. Get past the fluff and canned responses. He said it’s ok to make candidates uncomfortable.

I’ve done a lot of hiring in my management career for direct reports. And I’ve been on search committees for executive positions. I’ve also been on the other side of the search process being interviewed for CIO positions.

You review resumes, you listen to the search firm’s summary comments on each candidate, and then you finally meet the candidates in the first round of interviews. It’s a process. And you only have an hour or so to get to know each person.

What you see on paper are the qualifications. In the interview you get to know the person. I said in one of my first blog posts, hiring the right people is one of the most important decisions managers make. For executive positions, the process is more rigorous with more people involved. After all there is much more at stake when you are choosing one of the top executives.

You are all working off the same position description and the organization’s mission and strategy. Yet search committee members come to the process with different perspectives. Continue reading

So you didn’t get the job

Last week I wrote about how to stand out in the interview for a new job. I promised that I would write about what to do when you don’t get the job.  I’ve been there before and it’s not easy.

You think you’ve nailed the interview. You’ve met with lots of people. You like them and your potential new boss. You think it’s a great opportunity and you are excited about the prospects. You anxiously wait for “the call”. And then it comes. The hiring manager, HR person, or recruiter says “we’re going in another direction” – that common euphemism to say that someone else is getting the job.  They go on to say some nice things about you and that you interviewed well but all you hear is that you didn’t get the job.

Your friends and family are supportive. They may say “it wasn’t the right one anyway”. Or “something better will come along”. They tell you how to feel but what you want to say is what my youngest daughter would say to me – “you can’t tell me how to feel, you’re not inside my body!” Continue reading

Stand out at the interview

Interviewing for a new job? Remember when you interviewed for your current position? Any way you slice it, job interviews will cause stress but they can also be a growth opportunity.

In recent weeks I have interviewed several candidates for three different positions. I am hiring a new executive assistant who will work closely with me as a partner for day to day tasks, so I can be more effective and efficient.  On a different level, I’m on the search committee for our University of Michigan Chief Information Security Officer – a critical leadership role at a time of increased security threats. I’ve also interviewed a candidate for a key director position in our IT department at the request of the executive director who is doing the hiring.

No matter the role, there are some common themes: the first impression you make, your engagement during the interview, your core skills, and your previous experience all come into play.

Group interviews are especially challenging. They can seem stilted and scripted as the interviewers take turns posing questions. Interviewers need to balance common questions/scenarios with each candidate for consistency while creating a lively discussion where they get to know the person. Candidates need to adequately cover each question without getting off track and still let them get a feel for the person. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading