According to a recent Gallup Business Journal report (based on a Gallup poll related to managerial efficacy), only one of every 10 managers have the requisite leadership skills and training to do the job right – to appropriately hire, motivate and lead their division or company to excellence. In fact, Gallup reports that 82% of all managers are given far too much authority for their demonstrated skillsets.
Another 20% of managers could become high functioning, Gallup suggests in the article, if given executive coaching and specific management training. “Still,” the article goes on to say, “companies miss the mark on high managerial talent in 82% of their hiring decisions, which is an alarming problem for employee engagement and the development of high-performing cultures in the U.S. and worldwide.”
Why is the rate of bad hires disproportionately high in the C-Suite? Most management-level interviewees reported to Gallup that they were promoted into the role of manager due to their past tenure with a company, or years of experience in the role of producer (rather than manager). Therein lies the problem.
There is a very real pressure in every company, regardless of size, to hire from within. When good producers aren’t considered for the next available management job, they often decide to look elsewhere to “move their careers along” – at considerable cost to the organization. But the requisite skills needed to manage a sales force, for example, are very different than the talents needed to sell a product and appease a disgruntled customer. Even knowing that, an executive team faced with a high-achieving internal candidate who likely will leave the company if not hired, will almost always make a poor hire and compound existing company problems.
The long-term answer may lie with emerging predictive analytics technology to test for “soft skill” talents – those behaviors long considered to be innate and, therefore, unmeasurable. Establishing a hiring platform for all managers that incorporates third-party evaluation of requisite skills may temper automatic expectations of promotions, and moderate today’s promote-me-or-lose-me candidate mentality.
Can you test someone to learn if they are capable in the areas of motivating and engaging employees? The fuzzy “yes” answer is becoming clearer as new programs enter the beta-test phase. Soon you may be able to better predict if your candidate is assertive enough to create workplace accountability for every employee they supervise – while remaining confident enough to incorporate transparency and sensitive enough to bridge divergent communication challenges and inspire trust. We’ll also be able to better test if managerial job applicants have the common sense and judgment to measure the right things and to hire and fire outside of personality conflicts and office politics.
The truer test, likely, will be whether or not the executive team has the confidence to adopt it and then to hire, fire, and coach to the findings.