6 Hiring Mistakes Founders & CEO’s Make In Mid-Size Companies

common hiring mistakes founders and ceo's make

Founders and CEO’s of mid-size organizations commit the same hiring mistakes that many hiring managers make. Regardless of size and stage of growth, these hiring mistakes are made because of the way people and companies traditionally approach the employment process.

Here are 6 common hiring mistakes that founders & CEO’s make at mid-size companies:

Making speed the goal

Presidents, founders and CEO’s of companies will typically approach an employment process by saying, “I have a job that needs a certain skill at my company. We need this job filled.”

We typically only fill jobs when it’s an emergency. Then it becomes a race to fill it. How quickly can we get it done? When speed is the goal, we rush and make bad decisions.

You are going to spend a lot of time in the hiring process. Hiring takes time. No matter how fast you want to go, it is a time consuming process. You are either going to spend time doing it right on the front end, or you are going to spend a ton of time cleaning up messes on the backend.

The backend is where most people end up spending their time. They will spend their time cleaning up mistakes with bad hiring decisions.

Ignoring alignment on purpose, values and culture

There is a severe lack of engagement that exists with the workforce. According to Gallup, less than one-third of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. The problem doesn’t lie in hiring the wrong people from a skills perspective. The problem lies in hiring the wrong people from an alignment perspective.

As candidates, we’ll look for what can we do. What are the skills I have? What are the experiences I have? What am I capable of? What am I strong at? What am I good at?

That matters. However, what matters just as much – which often gets ignored – is do I actually want to bring my skills, strengths and experience and leverage it for a company that’s working on a problem, service or product in a way that is making the world a little bit better?

Does the company and the individual align on the things that end up mattering just as much – if not more – than the skills. Do I believe what you believe? Do I want to work on what your company is working on?

Whether it’s a small mid-size company or a large company, the problem is the same. We end up putting the cart before the horse. We are in such a rush to bring the right skills to the organization that we fail to recognize the importance of the intangible alignment factors with purpose, values and culture in the employment process.

Assuming you know what you need.

This might read a punch in the gut, but one of the largest hiring mistakes founders and CEO’s of mid-size organizations make is assuming they know what they need.

Let’s say you are the Director of Marketing and you need a new Marketing Associate. Typically the Director of Marketing will go to their recruiting leader and let them know they need a new Marketing Associate. They’ll give the recruitment team the job description, and ask them to go find someone that matches the job description. The recruitment team will then go out and find that person.

The Marketing Associate who will be brought into the organization ends up reporting to the Director of Marketing. But they also interface with a number of other stakeholders within the organization. Others departments, customers, vendors, supplies and a variety of people that the Marketing Associate will interact with.

If we only take the opinion of the Director of Marketing – or the direct hiring manager of the open position – then we’re only getting and satisfying one perspective. So are we really hiring the right person? We would argue that you are not.

No disrespect to hiring managers, but their perspective is very narrow. They’ve got blinders on. They’ve got goals to hit. They will hire what helps them deliver what it is they need to deliver to the organization. Instead of really attempting to move the organization forward and satisfying more stakeholders, they naturally adopt a myopic focus.

Using an old job description

If you slow down the employment process to get in touch with some of the other stakeholders that the position will interface with and rely upon, you’ll quickly learn that an old job description doesn’t serve it’s one purpose: to describe the job.

Ask your stakeholders, “What do you think is most important about this job? What worked really well with the former person who help this job? What did the former person who held this job not do really well? What’s happening in the industry that we should think about bringing into the organization?”

There’s a variety of different questions that should be asked of multiple stakeholders. They may or may not be the right answers, but they’re the right questions. When you collect more data from the stakeholders that interact with that role – in addition to the hiring manger – you are going end up with a much more holistic job description. This description will accurately describe what you are looking for in a candidate, as opposed to simply using an old job description or the perspective of just the hiring manager.

Leaving interviews to chance

Whether we admit to them or not, we all have biases. We tend to hire people who are like us. It’s part of human nature.

If you have ended up taking the time to survey multiple stakeholders to understand the image of success, you need to build a structured interview process.

Don’t leave it to chance. Don’t gun from the hip. Most CEO’s and hiring leaders think they are great interviewers and know how to spot talent. Everyone can claim they know how to spot talent. But understanding exactly what talent you really need is reliant on a structured interview process on the selection criteria.

The structure your interview process, you will need to build out specific questions that revolve around your purpose, values and culture. You will need to find someone in your organization that can serve as the ambassador to find that alignment in the intangibles of the organization. You also need to structure your interview process around the competencies of the role, which is where the hiring manager should really be involved.

You should be screening for what you really need this person to deliver. And then asking whether they have a track record of delivering this specific type of work. Or, whether you believe that they have the potential to deliver this type of work as they grow into the future.

Not Vetting for leadership

The most normal route to leadership is through demonstrating success as an individual contributor. Many people who are in leadership roles shouldn’t be because they don’t have leadership competency. They have great job or skills based competency. They don’t have leadership competency.

Dependent upon the amount of leadership required for the role, do you have interview questions built out that are really assessing – irrespective of the job competencies – leadership capability. Is this person a leader? Do they demonstrate leadership?

We have a leadership model that revolves around three character traits. Driving Results. Developing People. Learning Relentlessly. The model serves as a framework of how we do our interviewing around leadership capability. Most people who are in leadership roles have reached that place because they were excellent as an individual contributor at their job. They were great at what they do.

Are you really screening and vetting for leadership?

What hiring mistakes are you making?

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.