Elevate Your Hiring Game: Insider Tips for Securing Top Management Talent

Align Strategic | Founder Freedom
Elevate Your Hiring Game: Insider Tips for Securing Top Management Talent

By Cheryl Powers

In today’s competitive talent landscape, attracting, finding, selecting, hiring and onboarding top managers for your company is tougher than ever before. This isn't just by chance; it's due to several reasons that small and mid-market business owners often miss or don't give enough importance to.

Knowing these challenges is key to solving them.

Let's explore why it's hard to hire great management talent:

Why Business Owners Struggle to Hire Top Management Talent

Owner's Indecisiveness


A significant hurdle in the recruitment process is business owner indecision. When it comes to making crucial hiring decisions, some owners falter, delaying the process unnecessarily. This can be caused by the owner's lack of skills in recruiting, unhelpful beliefs about the process, or simply fear. Indecision not only leads to missed opportunities with potential candidates but also sends candidates a negative signal about the owner and the company's decision-making processes. Timely and confident decision-making is key to securing top talent. 

A study by the Harvard Business Review indicates that companies that fill positions in the top quartile of their industry's hiring speed have a 3.5 times higher growth rate and 2 times higher profit margins compared to those in the bottom quartile. A stark example of this is one of our clients in the tech space that missed out on hiring a now-renowned Chief Technology Officer due to the owner's hesitation, resulting in the candidate joining a competitor and contributing significantly to their success.

Ineffectiveness at Interviewing


Many owners lack formal training in effective interviewing techniques. This can lead to unstructured interviews and candidate tests that fail to assess the candidate's true potential or fit for the role and end up frustrating top talent. Effective interviewing requires a strategic approach, where questions are tailored to gauge not only the candidate's skills and experience but also their alignment with your company's culture and values.

Google’s former Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, emphasizes structured interviews as a predictor of candidate success. And they are, especially when they are part of a predictive hiring approach.

Recently, a new client, an owner of a marketing firm, told me about his failure to assess candidates’ strategic thinking abilities, which had led to him hiring a manager who was skilled operationally but lacked vision, stifling the company's growth. Now, we're working with him to fix this and find a manager better suited to all of the specifications of the role.


Misguided Attempts to Emulate Larger Corporations


In an effort to attract top talent, some owners attempt to mimic the practices and structures of larger corporations. This approach often backfires, making you and your company appear inauthentic or disconnected from your core strengths and values. It's important for owners to embrace their unique characteristics and strengths, such as agility, innovation, and a close-knit culture, rather than trying to replicate a corporate environment that doesn’t align with their reality.

Trying to mimic larger corporations can backfire in another way, too. Imagine hiring a candidate who fits the big company you were pretending to be but doesn't perform well or enjoy working for the company you really are.

A Gallup poll found that 70% of employees value a workplace where their unique contributions are valued more than in a traditional corporate environment. A recent example from our world is a mid-sized manufacturer that had adopted rigid corporate policies, leading to a talent exodus inside his company, while his competitor thrived by emphasizing its unique, flexible culture.

Fear of Replacing Underperforming Managers


Another common issue is the reluctance to let go of underperforming managers and replace them with more competent talent. This hesitation often stems from a misplaced loyalty or the fear of the unknown. As a business owner, you must recognize that holding onto ineffective managers can stifle your company’s growth and demotivate other team members. Not to mention keeping the underperforming manager from their ideal job. It's crucial to objectively evaluate performance and make tough decisions when necessary for the overall health and progress of your business.

A study from the University of Manchester found that replacing underperforming leaders can increase team performance by up to 20%. One of our distribution company clients experienced this firsthand when she finally replaced an ineffective manager and saw a 15% increase in productivity and a significant morale boost.

Settling for Mediocrity Due to a Defeatist Mindset


Some owners I've worked with, after facing challenges with their underperforming managers and their own misconceptions about the recruitment process, develop a defeatist mindset, convincing themselves that they can't do better than the current talent pool. This mindset is a serious barrier to attracting high-performing managers. You must be able to maintain your high standards and your optimism in the recruitment process because hiring the right talent can bring transformative changes to your business as well as to you personally.

A defeatist mindset can even prevent attracting high-performing managers. Research by McKinsey states that companies with top talent are 33% more likely to outperform their peers. An example of this is one of our SMB construction clients that, after several hiring setbacks, lowered its standards, leading to mediocre management and stagnant growth. 

Addressing these issues requires you to adopt a mindful approach and lean into the expertise of your recruiting advisor or business consultant. By working with your advisor, you can learn what’s important, what’s holding you back, what each of your roles requires from a top candidate, and exactly how to predict an exceptional hire.

Armed with this knowledge and a strong partnership with your advisor, you will overcome indecisiveness, hone your interviewing skills, stay true to your unique business identity, be willing to make tough decisions regarding personnel and maintain high standards in your hiring process. 

This will significantly improve your chances of attracting and retaining the top management talent necessary for your business's success and growth. And the best part is that you’ll enjoy coming to work knowing that you have a team of talented managers that can and will lead your company to the next stage of growth.

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