Here's the scenario: You have an opening in your company for a new manager. Ideally, you've already interviewed internal candidates; unfortunately, for whatever reason, no one's appropriate, so you've decided to go outside your company to find the knowledge, skills and abilities you need--in other words, to find the best person for the job.
This seemingly simple scenario has both positive and negative implications, many that business owners often overlook. On the positive side, the new external hire theoretically has all or most of the necessary qualifications you need. Also, and potentially more important, this person will bring a fresh, new and hopefully objective perspective to your organization. Their views will probably be free of any of the aspects of your company's culture that may have inhibited past managers. These obstacles could include: the same old way of seeing and thinking about issues; being restricted by "the way we've always done things around here"; being impeded by employees who react in a "groupthink" manner, that is, not disagreeing with the prevailing view or the "boss's" perspective.
On the negative side, you need to look at the implications for the unsuccessful internal candidates as well as other employees who've observed the process. Some employees may conclude that the boss doesn't promote from within. In that case, some employees may believe they have no future in the organization or, at best, that their chances of promotion may be limited. Previously loyal internal people will feel rejected, angry and frustrated with their potential for promotion into key positions. This is especially true if the new, external hire is not familiar with the processes, procedures, market or customers in their new job. Existing employees, especially those passed over for the job, will resent having to train their new boss or having their own productivity slowed down while the new hire gets oriented and acclimated to the new position.
Given the pros and cons of hiring an external candidate, what can you do to proactively smooth this person's entry into your business and move readily into increased productivity and profitability? Here are a few steps to take that will help:
1. Explain the culture of your organization to your new manager, including the stories, myths, heroes and norms; "the way things are done around here"; and your spoken and unspoken rules, policies, procedures and attitudes. But be careful: In doing this, try not to shape this person into the mold of their predecessor--unless, of course, that's your express purpose in hiring this candidate.
2. Explain the potential "landmines" that predecessors have experienced. This caveat is not made to necessarily encourage the new hire to avoid certain topics, procedures or issues, but rather to simply point out what may have not previously worked. An intelligent, experienced entrepreneurial individual who sees potential in something that previously failed will not simply avoid that issue; rather, the creative manager will try to figure out how to turn the unsuccessful endeavor into a successful one.
3. Discuss previous successes and failures in the organization, especially in regards to individual employees. Be cautious not to prejudice your new manager against anyone, because in so doing, you may be encouraging them to avoid building and improving a potential resource. It would be fair and appropriate, however, to tell the new manager that certain individuals or units have not been as successful as possible. Most effective managers will analyze the situation and seize the opportunity to make improvements.
4. Ensure that the new manager's role is extremely clear to both the manager, their peers and their direct reports.
5. Ease the new manager into their full responsibilities in an appropriately timely manner. Specifically, this means slowly adding more responsibilities and authority based on visible positive outcomes. Overloading any new hire with every one of their responsibilities can be too challenging, especially in complex situations.
6. Introduce the new manager to peers, staff and direct reports. Lend the manager the power and status of your office by officially passing the "mantle of power" to them there. Explain the credentials and successes this person brings to your company to help people understand why you hired this person.
7. Encourage others to welcome the new hire and make sure they understand that the new manager has your complete confidence and support. This process truly helps the new hire successfully obtain crucial support and credibility from colleagues and direct reports.
8. Serve as a mentor to your new employee. Act as a sounding board, especially during the first six months, to help ensure an easy and positive transition into your company.
9. Remember that you're the one who hired this new manager, and their success is your success. Do what you can to make it work!
Dr. David G. Javitch is an organizational psychologist, leadership specialist, and President of Javitch Associates in Newton, Mass. Author of How to Achieve Power in Your Life, Javitch is in demand as a consultant for his skills in assessment, coaching, training and facilitating groups and retreats.