The founder of a successful start-up and I were chatting sometime ago. He was thoroughly frustrated about building his leadership team. As a well- funded high growth start-up they were able to attract the candidates they wanted. They were doing rigorous interviews and paying top dollar to land the candidates. But five times out of ten, the hire did not work out. This was leading to a revolving door at the leadership level that was slowing down the business, causing frustration in the teams and really damaging the brand. The start-up had now started getting a reputation of “hire & fire” and senior candidates were wary about considering them.
We talked about their hiring process. It seemed like they had thought through what the person would do, what success would look like and the background and experience that they needed. They did their best to interview for these and only hired when they were sure.
I had just one question for him- “do you know what it takes for someone to be successful in your company?”
Job descriptions and interview processes usually cover the hard skills and experience and sometimes cover the culture fit. However in the case of leadership hiring, most companies miss the most critical factor- “what does it take for a leader to be successful in the company”. These Key Success Factors are the unstated, hidden and sometimes unknown factors at play within the organization that make or break the success of a new hire, especially at the leadership level.
An organization may require political astuteness, attention to detail or extreme flexibility. These are unchecked in the recruiting process, since often the founder or CEO, may not have even realized that these are must haves to succeed in the organization.
The first step is to uncover these hidden Key Success Factors. A quick way to do this is to understand what makes leaders successful and unsuccessful in the company. Have the courage to ask people who could not perform- “what came in the way of your success?”. Ask people who are successful- “what did you struggle with in the early days”. Sometimes, you may not even like what you hear!
Once you know what the Key Success Factors are, it’s easier to build them into your selection process. Check if the person can adapt to, thrive in or change the Key Success Factors of your organization. This will determine if they can be successful in your company. Doing this can improve the success rates of your leadership hires significantly in a very short period of time.
Do you know what are the Key Success Factors for leaders in your organization? Are you ready to start using New Hire Success Rate as the right metric for your leadership recruiting?