The hiring process can sometimes be akin to looking for your next team superstar. Ideally, you want the perfect employee, a manager who will tick all the boxes, be an inspiration to their team, and be a guaranteed good asset for the organization. It almost feels like they need to possess the “X factor”; if you will — which, I discussed in one of my previous articles. If you get it right, it’s magic. If you get it wrong, the result is a bad manager who will fail, and that is a problem for the manager, for the team, and for your organization.
Of course, nobody wants to hire a bad manager – who can’t pull their weight – but it does happen. More often than we’d like. In most cases, it is due to the hiring manager not being aware of all three capabilities that make a great manager — which results in the failure of the new hire.
1. The Most Important Capability
If you hire a manager who isn’t quite up to the task, they won’t be successful. However, their not being up to the job isn’t always related to skills. It is most often related to their Problem Solving Capability — a concept derived by Elliott Jaques’ concept of mental processing capability. It refers to the way individuals receive and process information and whether they can gain and apply knowledge from it that is required to make good decisions. The Problem Solving Capability of the manager must be consistent with the complexity of work required of the role. The work of the manager of a team is more complex than the work of the team members. Managers must be aware of this concept or else you’ll have plenty of over-promotion and as a result employees who fail at their new duties.
2. Passion for the Job
Devotion is a trait that’s frequently mentioned in job interviews, yet candidates are often not genuinely passionate about the job they’re interviewing for. The same can be true for employees who were promoted to a managerial position, or those who have outgrown it. Full application of all of their capability requires that they value managerial. This is one of the critical traits of a good manager that enables them to lead their team effectively. Passion for the job is more than a buzzword and common interview phrase — if it isn’t there, it leads to the under valuing of the work and avoidance of critical managerial leadership tasks.
3. The Right Skills
Without the skills necessary for the job, no candidate will be able to make it — but abilities on their own are not enough for success. A manager can know all about delegation, successful setting of context and providing feedback, and so on, and yet be unable to actually do the work. However, someone without the technical and social processing skills that are required for the job will have a hard time dealing with even the first obstacle in the management course, unless they receive training. Unfortunately, a degree itself often isn’t enough to prove that a manager possesses all the necessary skills. On the other hand, the lack of skills in an employee is usually the easiest out of all three problems to notice, which makes it less likely to be overlooked. We call this capability Skilled Knowledge, as effective managerial leadership requires both the knowledge of what to do and the technical capability to actually do it.
Ignoring any of these factors means hiring a less-than-ideal candidate, that bad manager who will eventually fail at their position. A good, effective manager must be able to problem solve at a higher level of complexity than team members to add value to their work. They must have the skilled knowledge to actually do their managerial work as we describe in the five requirements of effective managers. Finally, they have to really value the work of managerial leadership so they will fully apply themselves. Once we add the passion for the work into the mix, we get a star employee that will be a top performer.