Monday, September 7, 2009

Hiring, Firing and Board Meltdowns

The second session of the Leadership Summit (08/06/09) was a different take on hirings, firings and board meltdowns. A three +/- minute drama was done showing a hiring for a key position within the organization, a firing, and board that completely breaks down. Obviously, there were things during each of the dramas that were not the "best" way to approach the depicted scenario. After the drama, a panel of experts - Bill Hybels, Carly Fiorina, Dr. Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, and Dr. David Ireland - all discussed the good [not much], the bad [a lot], and the ugly of the drama depiction.

In all of this, it's important to understand that the leader's role is to honor people. The people you work with and lead, the people who may come into the organization, the people who will leave the organization. Jack Welch was quoted as saying "the kindest form of management is the truth."

Hiring. Scenes were shown of a person reviewing a resume, talking to someone on the phone about the candidate, and then the face-to-face meeting and subsequent offer. Some of the gems I got out of the session included:

  • Your candidate must fit in with your culture. That means you have to first understand your culture.
  • You must be clear on why you are hiring and what you want to achieve.
  • Hiring out of desperation is a big NO-NO and rarely [if ever] works out!
  • Identify [in advance] 2-3 behavioral traits you most want to see in your candidate.
  • Spend time with the candidate out of the interview environment.
  • Ask the same questions [worded differently] three times.
  • Ask questions about their answers to your questions.

Questions to ask them include:

  • What would other people say about you?
  • What are ways that are challenging in dealing with you?

In a best case scenario, your organization would have such a strong [and defineable] culture, people could self select themselves into the organization - or out of it.

Firing. The video showed the steps that led up to a person being fired, obviously badly. The gems were:

  • A firing should NEVER be a surprise. Don't let the firing/layoff be the first conversation.
  • Regular feedback is imperative.
  • Very few people like to have [or be on the receiving end of] hard conversations. Have a process in place for having dialog along the way.
  • Retrain first or re-position. Look for a different fit.
  • Clarity and care is key for down sizing.

Board Meltdown. A board meltdown can be avoided during the board creation process. Creating a board of directors [fyi 15-20 board members is unmanageable] should be a strategic and planned endeavor.

  • Board members must have influence, affluence and skill sets that are needed by the board and the organization.
  • Board members must have limited terms.
  • Time and energy should be put into defining what is needed and the ideal mix of styles, talents, etc. for a board.
  • A board is a team and as such should figure out how to work together as a team.
  • They must trust each other, be vulnerable and open to each other.
  • As a board, they must have a culture, a philosophy, and direction on how to behave.

Here's to learning and growing. J

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