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"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Leadership – Part 3

What’s the danger of going outside the organization to find a departmental leader? This is a tough task and one that can not be taken lightly. Usually, you have only the word of the candidate to base decisions on. Unless you just happen to have a mutual contact that will shoot straight with you on qualifications and background, you are stuck with one viewpoint – the candidate’s.

So! What are your options? There aren’t many.

I was once tested using the method I am going to describe to you as a possible option for the hiring manager.

I reported to the interview on a Friday morning around 8:30 AM. The hiring manager was the Vice President of Operations. I have no real idea how many other candidates he had discussed the position with prior to my interview; but I discovered later that there were more than a few.

I sat down with the VP for about an hour discussing one thing and then another. He probed my background while I probed the organization, the reason for the vacancy, and the organization’s future. This phase of the interview went fairly well; I thought at the time. This is when he must have decided that I was worth a longer look. He told me he wanted me to stay the entire day, spend time with each department and several of the key players within the company. Well, I had to do some quick rearranging of my expected day. I had not planned on the interview lasting any longer than three hours at the most. I had lunch plans and another place to be that afternoon. I made a couple of calls and we were off to the rest of the day.

The next hour I spent in the warehouse learning their procedures and asking questions on how and why they did certain things certain ways. After the hour, the warehouse supervisor ushered me on to the purchasing department. I found out later that he reported to the VP just as soon as he had dropped me with purchasing.

On it went; next production control, then to shipping and receiving and right after lunch I was dropped with the production departments. Later in the afternoon, I spent time with sales, customer support and then time with HR. Each department picked my mind and then reporting to the VP with their thoughts.

Just about 4:00 PM, I was returned to the VP’s office, where we discussed the day, what I had learned and what ideas I had that could help improve the operations of each department. I was very frank with the guy and told him just what I thought in each case: where the strong points//players were and where I thought there was room for improvement.

The organization was on the verge of a huge expansion and I must have said the exact right things because he offered me the position before I left for home. I had basically worked the entire day “off the clock” and gave direction where I thought it was needed. I had met and passed the “can we work together” test with a wide variety of the organization’s vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors. I had made my thoughts and ability to think ‘on my feet” very evident. I passed the test; good thing I was wide awake when I arrived there.

This is probably one of the best methods of working out a candidate from the outside I have every come across and have been put through. It works; but your interviewers have to be somewhat skilled to be able to test the candidate and have a great deal of openness to both sides of the struggle. Openness is of extreme importance in this interview process. You have to weight some areas greater than others unless the skills of each are just as strong as the skills of the others.

If you have the opportunity; give it a try.

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