How To Make Exceptional Staffing Decisions

I am unwrapping posts from the archives and mixing the old with the new. Enjoy this post from the past.

One of the most important things a leader can do is staff their department to deliver.  A leader without anyone on their staff who can design a recruitment strategy better than they can or who is better at [fill in the blank] than they are, is not really a leader at all.



More telling than who a leader selects for a position is looking at who they did not.

It's easy for leaders to select people like themselves or like others the other members of their staff. It's not difficult for a leader to evaluate a candidate's skills against need, traits against culture, and like-ability against team dynamics. Nor is it a stretch to consider experience and accomplishments to predict contribution and initiative.

The outcome of the selection process often indicates that there is a person best suited for the job. It all fits - except for one thing. This one thing will make the difference between a solid selection and an exceptional one. And, herein lies the stretch.

Once the skills and culture fit boxes are checked and it's time for a leader to make a decision, the internal dialogue begins:

  • Can I manage this person who is older/younger than me?
  • Will they test or stretch my leadership skills?
  • What if he has ideas I hadn't thought of?
  • What if she wants my job - and has a good chance at getting it?
  • What if he fills in a much needed gap and people will realize that I had not?
  • What if she raises the bar and others are threatened?

These questions have absolutely nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with the leader. Stop the madness right there. Leaders are human and get pushed out of their comfort zone. They feel threatened. And they should not let that interfere with making exceptional staffing decisions.

Take it from someone who succumbed to the madness, let the good ones get away, and has lived to tell about it. Acknowledge the discomfort but don't let it drive your decision making process. 

Some of my best staffing decisions were made from outside my comfort zone. How about you?

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