This article was originally published on Forbes.
By Michael Gunther
Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They excel at creating a company that fills a void in the marketplace through their drive and grit. Later in their business’ life cycle, entrepreneurs become aware that their business needs people who are well-versed in strategic thinking to lift the business beyond its current state to create a long-lasting and sustainable entity.
Building a senior management team is a strategic process; it is not the time to call on friends or past colleagues to assist in the company’s growth. It’s easy and comfortable to simply hire someone you know, but the fact is that most entrepreneurs are not trained in structured interviewing or talent assessment methods. To create a truly scalable and sustainable business, owners must undergo a thorough recruiting, candidate assessment and onboarding process to ensure the company’s long-term success. A solid senior management team made up of experts is a requirement, not an option.
Here are seven steps to create a strong senior management team.
1. Implement performance-based hiring. The first step is to define the job role and determine key assessment variables. Don’t be swayed by a candidate’s impressive resume or educational background. You must ensure the candidate will actually deliver specific results for your company. Instead, determine the skills, experience, personality traits and behaviors that a senior manager at your company must possess. Then, evaluate each candidate using this established measurement system to find the best fit.
2. Design a ‘scorecard’ for the position. Once you know what you’re looking for, develop a numerical scoring system that allows for subjective commentary. This way, candidates can easily be compared to one another using the same set of rules that you already determined.
3. Align your interview team. Interviewing a candidate is a lot more involved than simply asking questions. Be sure to train your interview team so they demonstrate the ability to assess talent before the interview process. After interviewers are trained, divide the criteria on your scorecard among the interview team. This prevents assessment gaps and ensures each candidate is asked questions pertaining to each assessment variable.
4. Store candidate scorecard data. Once you hire a candidate, be sure to retain their interview scorecard. The interview scorecard provides valuable baseline data to measure the new hire’s impact on the company in the long-run. For example, if you defined that your sales leader must deliver $2 million in net new annual revenue, you can measure that more accurately than if you had asked the new hire to simply “increase company revenue.” This provides a better gauge of the impact the new hire has on the business at the end of their first year in the position.
5. Set expectations. The amount of work put into a new senior manager after they’re hired is just as important and beneficial in the long term. Meet with the new hire and clearly outline what you expect from them after 90 days and 180 days.
6. Assess team and new leader styles. Behavioral assessment tools like WorkTraits or DiSC allow you to get a better understanding of how your new hire works. Additionally, you will see the new hire’s blind spots, which can be corrected through coaching.
7. Evaluate leadership skills consistently. Continual evaluation of a senior manager’s leadership skills will ensure they’re on the right path, both for their personal growth and for the benefit of your company. Conduct these evaluations 90 days, six months and one year after their start date. If any deficiencies are found, they can quickly be corrected with additional training and coaching.
Not hiring the right senior managers and neglecting to properly train and continually coach them will hinder your company’s competitive edge and prevent the sustainable and scalable growth you desire. Take your time to recruit senior managers and don’t hesitate to bring in third parties to assist you in your search and educational opportunities. When this process is done right, your new recruits will bring great value to your company and will stick with you for years to come.