Friday, 31 January 2014

Flowers, Di Canio and Dymond - When will we ever learn

We used Psychometrics - Why did it go wrong?

As many will have seen this week, numerous articles have been published regarding the recruitment of Paul Flowers at Co-op, George Dymond at Morrisons and the hiring of numerous football managers who were completely wrong for the business or left extremely quickly with the use of psychometrics being quoted in a number of them as a key reason for the hire.

Recruiting a Chairman of a bank with no previous banking experience on the basis of his leadership and previous board credentials might be seen as foolish, especially following the numerous reports into the financial crisis which stated that one of the key drivers was leadership that did not understand the products or risks within the system.  One does feel that the job description was far more people and behaviours focused rather than domain experience.

Bringing people in who leave within 3-6 months because the job was not what was envisioned demonstrates a lack of desire by the organisation to  fully understand what their needs are at the outset by either failing to outline the role or environment in which candidates will work; of course being blinded by one of the many recruitment fallacies such as halo, mirror, PLU or their background can also be reasons why the wrong person is hired.

What this overlooks is the key reason for hiring a headhunter or recruitment specialist, to advise, design or oversee the process, challenging either the board or the leadership team that they hire the right person  for the role in a proper selection process. Given the recent scenario at Sunderland with Di Canio, one does wonder whether they assessed him at all in their selection process or just went with someone who they thought brought credibility?

This brings us onto the other crucial role of a headhunter, fully referencing candidates both through the formal side of their CV but also by talking to others who have worked with them to understand their work style and limitations, coming back to the Di Canio situation, one feels a couple of quick phone calls to Swindon might have influenced the decision to Sunderlands benefit.

How boards and leaders design the assessment of the hiring process is something where the recruiter can bring a great deal of experience both through their structured interview technique, arranging testing, role plays and case studies through to advising on the decisions that they take.

Having a panel involved in the interview and assessment process can overcome shortcomings associated with having the same person making hiring decisions, however the panel needs to be balanced and not subject to groupthink or influence by the most senior person.

While psychometrics will have a key role to play in hiring especially when the team fit and motivations are key to ensuring that a person will be able to lead a group of experienced leaders and personalities, the focus of a recruiter should be on making sure that both sides are aware of the opportunities and constraints around the job, assessment is accurate and competently carried out, and the expectations should be clear for all when decisions and offers are made.

Psychometrics and aptitude tests have long been used to set benchmarks and give boards, leaders and hiring managers a good reason to rule people out but they should never be used as the only reason to hire without all the other checks and balances of a proper assessment exercise.

If any football clubs or banks wish to employ me in the search for their next manager I would be happy to talk to them!
What are your thoughts?