It doesn’t take much research to figure out that for candidates who are hired primarily for their hard skills when they underperform it’s most often due either to their lack of soft skills, team skills or an inability to work with their hiring manager. These problems can be avoided by changing how candidates are assessed with more focus on the context of the job and the fit factors, not just their technical competency. The “how to do this properly” is fully covered in the 4th edition of Hire with Your Head (Wiley & Sons, September 2021) but the theme of hiring for the anniversary date, rather than the start date, is the real purpose of the book. This is called Win-Win Hiring.

The problem is that in the rush to fill jobs, too many shortcuts are taken with a focus on compensation and competency rather than performance, fit and satisfaction.

A positive Win-Win Hiring outcome after one year means the new employee is still fully satisfied with the role and his or her career progression, and the hiring manager still fully supports and endorses the person. In these situations, both are glad an offer was made and accepted one year after working together. Hiring for the anniversary date, rather than the start date, involves a number of additional assessment steps, especially how the hiring manager and the person work together. This relationship is referred to as “Managerial Fit.”

In Hire with Your Head I make the claim that unless the hiring manager can support, develop, and mentor the new hire during the onboarding process and throughout the first year a Win-Win Hiring outcome is unlikely. Just as important is for the new hire to be able to mesh with the hiring manager’s style of management rather than putting the entire burden on the hiring manager.

We figured out how to assess this properly after one of our clients asked me to incorporate Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model into our hiring manager’s interviewing training course. It turned out that by mapping a manager’s approach to leadership and development to the new hire’s need for direction and coaching, we could accurately predict “Managerial Fit.” The concept is shown in the graphic below.

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How to Accurately Predict Managerial Fit and Ensure a Great Hire

As part of the intake meeting when opening a new job requisition, ask the hiring manager to describe how much coaching, training, and direction he or she typically provides to new hires for this type of role. Then get some examples of some not-so-good hires for similar positions to determine if the managerial fit issues were part of the cause. Based on this, assign the hiring manager into one or two of the categories on the top scale in the graphic.

As part of the fact-finding during the work history review and digging into major accomplishments, ask candidates to describe their best and least-best managers. The objective is to find out how the candidate’s managers affected the person’s performance. Some candidates can work with all types of managers, and some can’t. Just as important, some candidates thrive under different types of managers and underperform with others. This is a critical aspect of assessing managerial fit.

To ensure a reasonable Managerial Fit make sure there is some flexibility with both the hiring manager and the candidate across the styles and some vertical alignment between them. This is typically the Coaching/Delegator style of managing coupled with a subordinate who fits the Coachable/Manageable style. An extreme example of poor managerial fit is when the new person doesn’t want much management and the hiring manager wants everything done his or her way. Just as bad is a Hands-off style of management coupled with a person who needs a lot of support, training and direction. A more common example of a Managerial Fit problem is a hiring manager who would rather hire experienced people since they have little interest in coaching and training their new hires even if these less-experienced people have lots of upside potential.

Hiring for the anniversary date, rather than the start, takes more effort during the interviewing process, but the result is better performance, increased job satisfaction and less turnover. Assessing Managerial Fit is a critical aspect of this, since without this the candidate will underperform even if everything else is perfect.