Courageous leaders staff key positions with top talent. But selecting top talent is difficult. We saw a high profile example of this very recently when Time Inc. had to remove their new CEO of less than six months.
How can you avoid such a mistake? The fact is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It is not perfect, but it is probably your best shot at learning about an individual’s abilities. Hence, here are some tips that I highly recommend:
1) Get “360” input; which means assembling input from people who have: a) worked for the person; b) been the boss of the person; and c) been a peer of the person . Ideally, get this kind of data for several past positions the person has held.
2) For as many prior positions as possible, evaluate the results and the person’s role in those results.
3) Take particular care in thoroughly probing any piece of information that suggests a weakness.
In the case of Time Inc., the new CEO had a good track record of strong financial results, but clearly personality played a crucial role. Time Inc. even commented that his management style “didn’t mesh well with Time Inc.” Sadly, a few phone calls to previous employers may have avoided this fiasco.
What are your favorite approaches in judging the potential of a candidate?