Holding managers accountable for their hiring decisions

Where are the accountable hiring managers?

Posted Mar 25, 2009

Imagine you're the CEO of a hypothetical mutual fund company with 10 different mutual funds and 40 managers of those funds. Now, imagine you didn't know which manager had bought which stocks. Absurd, right? You would never be able to make adjustments as far as which managers were good stock pickers and which ones were not.

As absurd as this scenario is, there's an equivalent situation in most organizations in that managers are not held accountable for which employees they decide to "invest" in by hiring them. It's very rare that organizations hold hiring managers accountable for their hiring decisions, although the decision to hire an employee is really very similar to the decision to buy a stock- in either case, you are taking a calculated risk and making a prediction about future performance based on past performance.

A very simple way to remedy this is to come up with criteria, such as the ones listed below. For each one, you can create a five point scale, with 1 meaning the candidate would not likely be successful on that criterion, and a 5 meaning that the candidate, in your view, is highly likely to be successful in this area.

1. Technical ability
2. Leadership skills
3. Interpersonal skills
4. Presentation skills
5. Teamwork
6. Conflict management
7. Motivation
8. Catalyzing change
9. Cultural fit
10. Organizational citizenship

These quantitative benchmarks can serve as a basis for discussion between different hiring managers, and can also enable the organization to determine which managers are the best predictors of which dimensions. For example, the company can check in one year later and correlate the predictions made on the above dimensions with actual performance ratings on the job. Even if organizations don't crunch numbers to assess hiring managers, this kind of rating form can be helpful to evaluate your own skill in interviewing and hiring. You can see what kinds of candidates you are biased towards, and learn how to make better predictions over time.

For more information on this topic, here's an article from HR Magazine.

I'd be interested in hearing from you about your experiences with hiring manager accountability, or lack thereof.