By Dr. John Sullivan
You probably already know that despite their good intentions, many managers are not very good at hiring. During simpler times, it made sense for supervisors to hire their own team members and for car owners to repair their own cars. But now that cars are computerized and hiring top talent has become extremely competitive and complex, a do-it-by-yourself approach can be damaging. So, if you are one of the many firms that are struggling to hire skilled top talent, the weakest link in your hiring process may, in fact, be your individual hiring managers.
Why Individual Hiring Managers Now Struggle to Hire Top Talent
Of course, individual hiring managers haven’t suddenly become horrible people. But instead, it’s the dramatically changed talent marketplace that is negatively impacting hiring manager success. Not only has the competition for talent become extremely intense, but the percentage of jobs that require sophisticated technical skills have also increased dramatically. Hiring managers who infrequently hire simply won’t be able to make fast decisions, understand the changing candidate expectations, or effectively sell top talent.
The alternative hiring strategy is for corporations to use “strategic hiring committees” made up of those employees with proven candidate assessment capabilities, stronger candidate selling skills, and a more strategic view of a firm’s future talent needs. Google, of course, is the benchmark firm because from the very start it has led the way in using hiring committees for every hire. And rather than being rare, research shows that across all organizations, “Hiring teams make 40 percent of all hiring decisions” (Source: Lou Adler).
The Many Advantages of Using Strategic Hiring Committees
There are numerous reasons why firms of all sizes should consider using hiring committees at least for their most strategic and hard-to-fill positions. The top seven advantages and business impacts of this approach are listed below.
- Better performing new hires — The most important bottom-line impact is that hiring committees produce higher-quality hires. The improved new-hire performance results from having better trained and more experienced individuals responsible for the hiring decision. In addition, members of great hiring teams are selected because they make decisions based on data and facts, instead of the mostly intuitive approach that is unfortunately used by most hiring managers. A data-driven approach consistently produces a significantly better quality of hire.
- More strategic hires that fit your long-term talent needs — Individual managers tend to hire for their own narrow, selfish short-term needs. Members of the strategic hiring committee are selected because they instead take a longer-term “this and the next job” hiring approach. Members also have a more strategic view of the type of talent that the organization will need in the future.
- A dedicated team will hire faster, so you will lose fewer top candidates — because of repetition and their more expensive training and hiring experience. Hiring-team members can and do make faster and more accurate hiring decisions. The consistent and centralized hiring process can easily be made more streamlined. And that means that fewer high-demand candidates will be lost as a result of busy hiring managers not devoting enough time to making quick hiring decisions.
- Experience will improve your candidate selling capabilities — in our extremely competitive job market, the ability to sell currently employed individuals with multiple career opportunities has become even more critical. Rather than being rusty, as many hiring managers are, by being continually involved in hiring processes team members can continually update their knowledge about candidate expectations, the actions of your talent competitors, and the most effective attraction and selling approaches. Unfortunately, individual managers are almost always weak in this now critical area.
- Practice and data improve candidate assessment — Assessing the current capabilities and the future trajectory of candidates is extremely difficult. Instead of a single hiring manager, you have multiple trained individuals making the assessment. In addition, a high volume of hires and the extensive feedback that accompanies it will allow team members to continually improve the speed and the quality of their candidate assessments. Hiring managers still get to interview top candidates and to provide assessments of their technical skills. However, they don’t get to make the final hiring decision.
- Improved diversity results — Hiring-team members can be better trained on how to attract and land diversity hires successfully. This training and experience can also reduce the chances of legal and bias issues occurring. The larger size of the hiring team makes it more likely that it will include diverse members.
- Increased accountability and control over the hiring process — Having the same people consistently doing your hiring will result in more uniformity across the firm. And that has the added benefit of making the overall corporate hiring process easier to monitor. This more centralized approach also allows a firm to quickly and easily update its overall corporate hiring process to meet ever-changing needs and technology capabilities.
Even though instituting a strategic hiring committee will provide an organization with the numerous advantages that are listed above. It would be naïve not to expect a great deal of resistance to any reduction in manager authority from both HR and hiring managers. Firms like Google and Intuit have successfully overcome this resistance by showing how strategic hiring committees can produce faster and better performing new hires. You should also let managers know that using a hiring committee will obviously free up a great deal of their time that is currently devoted to recruiting.
Finally, if you’re still unsure, consider setting up at least one hiring committee as a pilot test. And then run the data to verify that it performs significantly better than the standard hiring manager approach.