5 Reasons Hiring Managers are More Important Than The CEO

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Hiring managers, temporary and transient though they may be, are the single most important employees in your company.

So, who is a hiring manager?

Hiring managers are an unusual class of employees. Unlike most other responsibilities in a company, they’re not hiring because of their seniority or their HR and recruiting expertise — though they can certainly have these things.

They’re also not in the role permanently. A manager might hire for just a few days or a few weeks at a time. They’re transient, temporary.They’re also undervalued and often unappreciated. Since hiring managers are most commonly hiring their own direct reports, there’s a lingering perception that they’ll be the ones who bear the brunt of the consequences of a bad hire. As a result, they aren’t allocated the training, support, and time that they need to do a good job.

This devaluation of the hiring manager is a mistake. A huge mistake. At our company, I’m the CEO but hiring managers are more crucial to our success than I am (except when I’m acting as a hiring manager, of course!). And here’s why:

1. Propagating culture

Hiring managers decide who gets hired, and who never even makes it in the door for an interview. They’re like the bouncer at a nightclub. Their word is law, and they decide how the night’s going to go.

If the bouncer’s good, you get a wide range of compatible people, and an interesting environment. But if the bouncer can’t strike the right balance, the place ends up filled with troublemakers, dead weight, and the bouncer’s own friends.

2. Establishing methodology

How is a hiring decision made? Is it a consensus decision? A vote? An informed dictator?

Unless your organization has clearly laid out policies and ruthless enforcement, the hiring manager inevitably establishes the decision-making method — a  responsibility that few people take seriously enough. By establishing a healthy process, a good hiring manager can transform your recruiting efforts from a one-of-a-kind art to a repeatable science.

Human capital is the primary determinant of the pace at which your company can move. If you take too long looking for the perfect fit, it’s going to slow you down. But if you hire too quickly and brazenly, you can end up filling your ranks with ineffective workers.

Hiring managers are vital, because they need to strike the right balance for both their own teams, and the company as a whole.

3. Assembling the team

Your hiring managers aren’t usually the only ones on your hiring teams. At one point or another, your candidates will probably interact with an HR expert, a technical expert, a scheduling coordinator, a senior executive, and others.

Deciding who should be on the hiring team is up to the hiring manager, and it’s no small task.

What do you look for when assembling the hiring team? There’s a lot to consider: diversity, skills, availability, willingness, role-playing abilities, patience, sociability, and more. Good hiring managers must be able to balance all of these factors in order to assemble the best team for the company.

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4. Coaching

Once the team is assembled, the hiring manager must ensure that each member understands his or her role.

Should the scheduling coordinator offer lots of advice on finding a place to park, or say nothing and see what approach the candidate takes to solving the problem? In the interview, is it more important to stick to the script, or to let the conversation flow naturally and delve deeply into interesting responses?

How you approach each candidate will affect not only the validity of your assessments, but also your ability to reliably compare one candidate to another. The hiring manager needs to make sure that every member of the team has the knowledge and skills they need to make an informed decision. Without proper coaching from the hiring manager, it becomes easy for a team to make the wrong recommendation.

5. Identifying success criteria

Perhaps most importantly, your hiring manager is usually also the one who requisitioned the job in the first place. So they’ll have participated in the initial job analysis, and will know better than anyone else what the ideal candidate looks like.

The hiring manager needs to decide what the new role’s success criteria are and what the company’s success criteria are.

For the role, the hiring manager must consider both the selection process (What does it take to be a 5-star candidate? What about a 4-star candidate?), and the new hire’s first few months with the company.

For the company, the hiring manager must consider the broader strategic questions (Can we afford to take the time finding best-in-class technical skills? Is this empty role blocking key company initiatives? Will this hire free up the time of other key people?), and optimize accordingly.

Ultimately, the success of your organization is predicated on your ability to hire great new people, and to get them onboard and working effectively quickly. Without cultivating great hiring managers, you’re working at a disadvantage.

That’s why hiring managers are more important than me, or you, or anyone else in your organization.