Leaders too often let people problems fester. David Ogilvy, who I worked for, phrased the solution as; ‘separate passengers without delay’. I read Stalin’s version of this statement recently; ‘when there is a person there is a problem, when there is no person there is no problem’.
So what’s the prescription to avoid people problems. Here are some ideas.
1] Be more diligent in the recruiting/interviewing process. When I worked at Ogilvy and Mather candidates would often have endless interviews with a wide variety of people looking for problems. I recall being the 11th person to interview a man for an entry level position. He rose to become a very senior executive in the agency.
2] Develop instincts for what you are ‘not’ looking for. Using exit discussions about people who leave under unsatisfactory circumstances catalog the ‘must, want and avoid’ characteristics to succeed in your organization.
3] Give yourself an out. Agree on a probationary period with your new hires.
4] Test people you interview on their core values. Everyone can express excellent core values but these can be subjective puffery. Test them to tell you examples of their core values in action. Look for good stories of character and competence.
5] Use a trusted recruiter when possible. Many head hunters are not good enough to be good recruiters, good consultants and good friends. But some are. Find one for yourself.