Hiring hiring managers is no easy task. For one thing, too many interviewers focus on assessing individual contributor skills even though assessing management skills should dominate the assessment.

In a recent post I suggested there are 12 deadly sins you need to avoid when hiring someone for a management role. These range from being autocratic, an insensitivity to the needs of others, and an inward departmental focus to being inflexible, a poor judge of talent and a lack of project management skills.

As far as I'm concerned, the focus of all hiring decisions should be on a person's track record of achieving comparable results to what needs to be accomplished in the job. For managers, this needs to focus on management accomplishments. That's why I suggest that job descriptions should emphasize performance objectives rather than skills, experiences and competencies.

Here's a non-management example: "Design the user interface for the voice-based mobile app in 90 days" is better than saying, "Must have intense knowledge of Objective-C, REST, XML, and JSON, great interpersonal skills, a 'can-do' attitude and a technical BS degree." Every job can be described by some mix of 6-8 individual, team and management performance objectives.

To determine ability and job fit just ask the candidate to describe a major accomplishment for each performance objective. After doing this for the top 3-4 objectives it will be apparent if the candidate possesses all of the skills, behaviors and experiences necessary to successfully perform the work.

Emphasize Management Performance Objectives When Hiring Managers

For management positions these performance objectives should emphasize management objectives, not individual contributor ones. This shift in focus coupled with the same major accomplishment question ensures the 12 deadly management sins are avoided.

I'm putting together a series of performance-based job descriptions for an upcoming project for a variety of jobs. Following are some from the Team and Management sections. Select a few on your next search project involving hiring hiring managers.

Sample Team and Management Performance Objectives

  • Assess and rebuild the team to support the department's growth plan.
  • Some of the team problems likely to be encountered soon after starting are (describe). Develop intervention or reorganization programs to minimize their disruption on the department plan.
  • Review and rebuild the organization to ensure success of the __________ project.
  • Build a team consisting of (describe) to handle the (describe project). Give specific consideration to the (describe most important issues).
  • Setup a method or system to improve the performance of the (describe group) by implementing a series of programs consisting of (training, tracking, support, coaching). The goal of this effort is to (describe change in a measurable way).
  • Evaluate the team involved with (describe) to determine its ability to (accomplish something). As part of this, put together a rebuilding and development program with a goal of (describe) by (timeframe).
  • During the next (timeframe) working with (recruiting, HR) find and hire (describe requirements) in order to meet the (describe purpose of hiring).
  • As part of (describe program), coordinate with (HR, OD) to prepare detailed team development plans for each staff member to ensure (describe objective).
  • Put together a workforce plan for 20XX by (date) with justification for all new hires. Tie specific organizational needs to the department budget and the company annual operating plan.

Managers struggle creating these types of performance objectives so selecting from the list as a starting point is very helpful. Of course, these need to be clarified for the exact position but it's easier to present a grab bag of hiring tasks to consider rather than starting from scratch.

Hiring hiring managers is a far bigger and more impactful hiring decision than hiring a staff person. To make the right decision it's essential that everyone on the interview team understand the management challenges in the role. Then the decision to hire or not needs to be made on the candidate's ability to successfully handle these challenges. Hiring hiring managers is not the time to trust your gut or focus on emotions, intuition or individual ability. This is a recipe for hiring the wrong person and demotivating everyone else.