Managers are integral to the efficient and effective operation of small businesses. For that reason, it’s important to recruit and hire qualified managers who fit with the corporate culture and will add to the strength and diversity of the team as a whole. While this may seem like a tall order, hiring the best managers for your company is possible and always worth the effort.
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If you’re not yet sure how to hire a manager, consider these tips before you get started:
1. Create and Nurture an Appealing Corporate Culture
One of the best ways to attract and hire managers is to build a corporate culture that will appeal to top talent, so having an open, healthy work environment is crucial. Consider these tips when building your company culture:
- Motivate and engage employees
- Encourage open communication
- Promote teamwork
- Ensure the physical and psychological safety of employees
- Provide opportunities for personal and professional growth
2. Craft an Informative Job Description
Job descriptions serve a number of purposes but are an especially important part of attracting—and keeping—top managers. To hire the best managers in your field, take the time to write a job description that accurately describes the role in enough detail that, if hired, the candidate will know exactly what to expect from day one. Taking time to write a job description that is both accurate and appealing will increase the likelihood of hiring—and retaining—the perfect manager.
To do this, include as many specifics as possible about what the day-to-day job requirements will look like. If possible, provide a breakdown of how much time the employee will spend on certain types of work so that they can gauge whether it will be a good fit for their interests and work style. And, where appropriate, spend some time describing the organization’s corporate culture and what the work environment will be like. You may also want to take a few lines to describe the type of candidate who typically excels at the company.
3. Reconsider Minimum Qualifications
Including minimum qualifications in a job description can be a great way to limit the managerial candidates who apply for a role and further narrow a large pool of applicants. However, minimum qualifications can also mean that you never see candidates who would otherwise be a great fit for the role and your organization as a whole. More specifically, imposing requirements, like minimum work experience, will likely dissuade younger candidates from applying—even if they would otherwise be a good fit.
In truth, many skills can be learned quickly on the job and not every excellent candidate will have years of experience. What’s more, by focusing on structured minimum qualifications, there’s a greater chance that you’ll miss the unique skills and attributes that make a candidate the perfect fit for the role and your corporate culture.
If you’re concerned that this approach might lead to lower quality candidates, don’t fear. You can still evaluate applicants based on who you think will excel in the position. You just won’t miss out on hiring a good manager simply because they don’t meet a minimum qualification.
4. Promote Your Current Talent to a Managerial Role
Depending on the role you’re trying to fill—and the size of your company—it may be necessary to look outside your current staff when searching for ideal candidates. That said, promoting from within has a number of benefits to both your current employees and your bottom line.
By promoting a current employee into a management position, you demonstrate to other team members that there’s growth potential within the organization and that you value hard work. What’s more, by moving someone into a management role—rather than hiring someone from the outside—you can reduce or eliminate the expense that comes with hiring and onboarding someone new to the company.
Promoting from within also means that your new manager will already embody the values and culture embraced at your company. What’s more, they’ll have the institutional knowledge that will help them get off the ground running in the new role. When done correctly, promoting your current talent is also a great way to capitalize on existing relationships and team dynamics that are already helping your company thrive.
5. Don’t Undervalue Management Experience
When searching for a new employee, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having to find the perfect candidate who checks every box—and is willing to come aboard at the salary you’re able to offer. This can lead to drawn-out searches that do more harm than good. After all, you’re hiring a manager because you need someone to fill a need, and the longer you search, the longer those needs are unmet.
To avoid this pitfall, look beyond people who are specifically qualified in your industry or niche and consider candidates with pure management experience. After all, as a manager, your new employee likely won’t need the skills to perform the actual tasks they’re managing. It’s likely more important that they have the skills and temperament necessary to keep their team operating at its peak.
This approach won’t work for every role or industry, but it can be a good way to bring on quality candidates—especially if you find a candidate who already jives with your corporate culture and is committed to furthering the unique goals of your company.
6. Ask the Right Questions
Once you get to the interview stage, make sure you screen applicants by asking insightful and relevant questions. The best interview questions offer a glimpse into the candidate’s personality and experience, so you can see how they’ll work with your current employees. To do so, ask questions like:
- Can you start by telling me about yourself?
- Why did this job description stand out to you?
- What are you most passionate about?
You should also use the interview process to find out how each applicant is likely to respond under certain conditions and in response to common challenges. Consider describing a challenge your company has encountered and ask how they would have responded. Alternatively, ask about a recent management challenge the candidate faced and how they addressed it.
Finally, when hiring managers, ask questions that zero in on the applicant’s management style, ability to build a rapport with team members, and approach to giving—and receiving—feedback. For example:
- Describe your management style. How do you work best with direct reports?
- What’s your favorite part about managing people?
- Tell me about a time you had to deliver negative feedback. How did you approach the situation?
7. Avoid Common Hiring Biases
Hiring bias is generally defined as a personal prejudice, perhaps against certain people, groups, or characteristics, that bleeds into the hiring process. Because this bias can be conscious or unconscious, it can be difficult to avoid—especially if it’s getting mixed up with your other feelings about a candidate’s experience and qualifications. Some common hiring biases include:
- Social comparison bias, whereby you avoid highly qualified candidates who might threaten your own status within the organization
- Beauty bias, which occurs when you unconsciously believe that the most attractive candidate will also be the most qualified and successful candidate
- Conformity bias, which results in recommending an applicant because other members of the hiring team believe them to be the best candidate
To avoid the threat of hiring bias, start by creating qualification metrics and applying them to every candidate. Once you narrow the pool of applicants down, have each complete the same assessment or test project so that you can compare how each would perform under the same circumstances.
Pro Tip: You can accomplish this in the interview setting by asking every candidate the same questions and taking notes when they respond. It may also be helpful to have a team of interviewers who can all provide their unique feedback, rather than limiting it to a single, potentially biased interviewer.
8. Look Beyond Local Candidates
Now more than ever, it’s easy to look beyond candidates in your business’ ZIP code and expand your search to qualified managers in other cities—or even states. This automatically expands the reach of your job posting, giving you a larger applicant pool and more accurate picture of interested candidates. Depending on your industry and geographic location, relocation packages typically cost anywhere from $2,000 to $100,000. This may seem high, but it may be worth it if it lets you hire the perfect candidate.
In addition to looking for management candidates who are willing to relocate for an in-office role, consider opening up the position to remote candidates. If you’re in an area with a high cost of living, you may be able to save money by hiring someone who lives elsewhere. And, while the thought of remote managers may seem intimidating at first, it can open you up to candidates who are unable or unwilling to relocate.
Plus, with remote work on the rise in the wake of COVID-19, now may be the perfect time to onboard a new manager and integrate them into your already flexible work environment.
9. Build a Diverse and Dynamic Team
When you’re hiring employees at any level (and especially managers), aim to build a diverse team that will provide different outlooks—not carbon copies who all think like you. Look for candidates with a range of strengths and weaknesses who will be able to work together to solve problems and constantly improve the business. These are especially important when hiring managers who will, in turn, attract a range of candidates as the company grows.
These efforts should start with your job descriptions and extend to the interview process, your company’s corporate culture, and day-to-day operations. Consider these tips when building a diverse and dynamic team:
- Diversify your network so that you’ll be exposed to a broader array of candidates
- Keep an eye out for hiring bias by drafting job descriptions that appeal to a broad range of candidates and standardizing the interview process
- Celebrate your employees for their differences
- Listen to managers and other employees
- Encourage open communication
10. Never Stop Recruiting
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a hiring manager is only looking for talent when you have an open position. When you limit recruiting to specific roles, you only get a brief snapshot of qualified applicants because you’re only looking for people who match those limited job descriptions.
Expand your universe of potential recruits by networking and building relationships with top management professions—even if you’re not planning to hire. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to have the perfect candidate in mind when a role opens up.
Alternatively, you can be more competitive and get the best managers by being willing to scoop up qualified candidates when they’re looking for a role—not when you think you need them.
Regardless of the industry, managers are an important element of any small business. Not only do they support their team members in day-to-day tasks, but managers can help guide the growth and overall trajectory of a company. For that reason, it’s important to set yourself up for success when hiring new managers—from networking and creating an appealing work environment, to drafting a job description and interviewing.