Hire Your Own Manager

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When an organization needs to add leadership, especially in times of growth and change, the process is fairly straightforward: the senior leader crafts a job and gets help from HR or an executive recruiter to find the best candudate. But what if it worked differently?

What if you helped recruit and hire your own boss?

It is not uncommon for staff to be involved in the interview process and some companies incent employees for referrals, but I am thinking beyond that. What if you thought about what you wanted in a manager and what you thought the business needed in a leader, and actively helped recruit that person into your organization?

Here is 7 reasons why reverse recruiting makes sense. 

1.      You can make sure there is a fit

Each person comes to the job with certain strengths and interests. You have yours and your colleagues have theirs. Who better to recommend the kind of leader that will compliment and cultivate these strengths than you? What are you looking to develop and in what areas do you want to be mentored? Hiring your boss is a great way to ensure that you are getting what you need from your career. It is a wonderful thing when the development path of individual employees and the business needs align, for a long time. And being involved in hiring your manager can start building this tenure and growth into your career at your current employer.

2.      You can be more successful

If you select the manager that is the right mix of mentor and challenger, you will be successful which will translate into more opportunities for you, and your colleagues. And if there is a good fit and complimentary skills, you may find yourself being able to focus on the parts of your job that you excel at, making you even more successful longer term.

3.      You will be happier

Extensive research, like this article in Forbes, has been done on why people leave companies and the analysis shows that people rarely leave companies, they leave managers. Employee engagement begins, and can end, here. Your direct manager has more impact on your job satisfaction than virtually any other factor in your work life, more than compensation, work environment, or specific responsibilities. Choosing wisely, can have an impact on your life, stress-levels, and overall career success.

4.      You position yourself as a leader

Let’s say you are a senior marketing director for a company who needs a Chief Marketing Officer, a Controller, or a head of operations at your company. Do you want to wait until the CEO appoints a new leader or brings in a few final candidates for you to interview or should you be more proactive? To make a recommendation for a new hire is a risk, but no matter how they ultimately end up doing in the role, you having a conversation with leaders in your company to make suggestions on what they should hire and giving them some people to consider, helps position you as a leader and someone committed to the cause of growth.  If you go proactively to the CEO to find out more about the role and how you can help recruit the best candidate, it shows that you are a committed, ambitious, and high-performing employee who connected in the community.

5.      You learn more about your business and the objectives of your boss

When you ask senior leadership what they are looking for in a new hire and how their performance will be evaluated, you are getting a fresh perspective on what a successful candidate might look like and how you can help them be successful once they are onboard. Many functional leaders or individual contributors are surprised to hear how much of their boss’ performance measures are based on things like enterprise value (ie, stock price, market share) rather than on successful execution of activities. This perspective can make you a better leader in the business, as well, able to tie your own activities with the overall business goals.

6.      You can influence the company

Those conversations about the role and success measures, can also put you in a position of influence. What is missing from the job description that you think is critical, but that the hiring manager might not be aware? What competencies would make this person successful leading your team? Want more diversity in your organization? Hire a woman or person of color. Ask what is changing in the function or market that might cause the company to want to adapt what they are looking for and recommend accordingly.

7.      You broaden your network

When helping to recruit, don’t stop with the people you already know. It is always better to build your network before you need it and there is no better way to do so than to reach out to see if people are interested in working for your company. You have something to offer them. If they aren’t interested, they might know someone who is who they can introduce you to. Ask your college professors for recommendations, see who serve on non-profit boards that you respect, attend networking meetings or industry association events and ask around. Scour LinkedIn. Referrals will lead to referrals and pretty soon you have met a dozen people who might be your next boss, at your current employer if things go well, or elsewhere in the future. Or maybe some of them may go to work for you someday.

In his book, Under New Management, David Burkus describes how teams are built at IDEO, the legendary industrial design firm. The teams pick their leader, the leader doesn’t pick the teams. The talent gets to pick their place in the organization chart, under the manager and on the projects that make the most sense to them. Managers who find themselves without teams, can’t execute projects and are probably not in the organization long. I imagine those with too many employees, find themselves with more interesting work and bigger responsibilities and reward. What started as an experiment years ago, still permeates the culture. Perhaps it is time for your organization to do an experiment of its own.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.