Every leader has experienced it – a bad hire. As well intentioned as they may be in bringing on a new team member, six months down the road they are shaking their head and wondering what they missed.
Obviously, a leader cannot anticipate everything, nor can they control a team member’s behavior. They can however implement a strategic selection process that helps them to identify a poor fit before a job offer is made, rather than after.
If you are leading your organization from a place of submission to God, you have the opportunity to have a Kingdom impact on the people you select and on those you do not.
So, what does a true selection process look like? As Kingdom leaders, a great place to start in finding this answer is by looking at the King’s example.
How Jesus Chose a Team
In Luke 6:12-13, we read:
“In these days he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.”
While the position Jesus was filling was quite different from the positions we might fill, the method in which He filled it is something we can learn from as leaders.
Three key principles stand out from this passage:
- Make decisions from a place of prayer.
- Invite others into the decision.
- People need to be truly chosen, not just hired.
In regard to the first principle, many of us do not approach the selection process from a place of prayer. We pray about personal decisions such as family issues and health problems but rely on our own strength or knowledge to select team members for our organization.
“We want to depend on God for these decisions,” said Walter Cunningham, President of Cornerstone Support Services.
Walter brings years of management and leadership experience to the table, as well as a sincere passion to lead people with an excellence that reflects the Kingdom of God.
“Even if you work in an organization that does not support this belief, you as a believer have the Spirit of God living within you and He wants to help you make those decisions,” said Walter.
If the Son of God began His selection process from the place of prayer and our desire is to advance His Kingdom, why are we rushing through something that is clearly of value to Him?
“The number one mistake I see leaders make is allowing pressure to cause them to rush into a hiring decision,” said Walter.
Even if extra work has fallen on you personally or you have a boss breathing down your neck to the get the position filled, rushing the process usually leads to more frustration in the end for both you, and the person you hire.
In the second principle from this passage, we see that there is wisdom in including others in our selection decisions.
Even Jesus Himself went to the Father to pray and discuss whom He should select. Throughout Scripture, we see God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit discuss, create and collaborate (Genesis 1:26, Luke 3:22, John 14:10 and 1 John 5:7-8).
“This is the second largest mistake I see leaders make when making this decision,” Walter said.
“Do not do this alone, invite feedback. You may or may not be in an environment that is conditioned to crave this dialogue – seek it out anyways. Sometimes we as leaders personally avoid the feedback thinking we do not need it because it’s our role to fill. This is a real trap we can all fall into,” said Walter.
One way of tangibly practicing this is by adding one more interview than you would normally conduct and invite a leader from another department into that interview. Allow them to ask the candidate questions and be open to their feedback afterwards. This gives an unbiased view of both the hiring need and the potential new hire.
If this proves difficult to do in your work environment, another person you could consider inviting into an interview is the candidate’s spouse or significant other. They should never inform a final decision directly, but their body language and feedback during the interview could provide vital information.
Each of us have blind spots and biases whether we like to admit them or not. Inviting others into this decision will dramatically increase your chances of selecting someone who is going to thrive.
The last principle we see Jesus model in this passage of Scripture raises an interesting question; what is the difference between choosing and merely hiring?
We need to choose our people with great intentionality and purpose. The world might say it is enough to get a warm body in a chair, but as Kingdom leaders, we should desire to truly select the best person for the position, not just a person. Not only does it hurt our organization when we hire the wrong person, it also hurts the person we hire. Their individual journey and growth, and the fact they are considering making us a part of that, is not something we should take lightly.
Now, that being said, most leaders want to make a good hire. It’s not that most of us wake up in the morning and want to make a bad hire. More than likely, we are just hiring people the way that we ourselves have been hired in the past. That being said, to live in God’s Kingdom means that we will often have to change our mind about things.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . .” Romans 12:2
Finding the Right Fit
As a leader, you should have definitive, concrete and compelling reasons to explain why you selected someone to join your team. They need to be chosen – not just able to tick your checklist.
Here are some areas to practice more intentionality when it comes to choosing a new team member.
- Are they a cultural fit?
Now, if you cannot clearly define what your organization’s culture is, you might need to press pause on your selection process and go back to the drawing board. Get with your leadership team and pray about establishing cultural cornerstones (core values) for your organization.
Betenbough Companies Inc., have four core values or “house rules” that, as we say, we “hire and fire” by. How can you decide whether a potential candidate is or is not a good fit, without a culture to actually fit into?
If you do have core values within your organization, then those should be the first things you are looking to identify in an interview.
“I not only am looking to see if the candidate understands our culture, but I am looking for tangible examples and stories of how our core values are already being lived out and practiced in that person’s life,” said Walter.
All of Luke chapter 6, leading up to verse 12 where Jesus chooses His apostles, is filled with stories of Jesus performing miracles. There is no doubt that people were excited to be around Jesus and were intrigued by Him.
Similarly, if your organization truly has a Kingdom Culture, people will be drawn to it and more than likely be excited by the prospect of working there. Intrigue and excitement however, do not equal a cultural fit. Jesus understood this well enough to have the discernment to choose twelve from the midst of hundreds, and we must too.
- Are they a team fit?
A concept our companies largely lean on when looking for someone who will be a good team fit can be found in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player. Throughout this book, Lencioni discusses the idea that you want to be looking for someone who is humble, hungry and smart. Lencioni goes on to explain what he means with these three words, and what happens when you find someone who only possesses one or two out of the three.
If you find yourself continuously hiring people who struggle playing well with others, this book is a resource we would encourage you to check out.
“One bad hire can change the culture of a team, reduce productivity, and more importantly reduce the health and satisfaction of the other team members,” said Ty Stolp, Director of Construction Support for Betenbough Homes.
- Are they a functional fit?
This is the part that most of us already do well. You are ensuring that a candidate can actually perform the job function and its duties. This is worth mentioning though, because organizations can become so excited about finding cultural and team fits that somehow, this part becomes trivial.
However, if you want a culture of excellence and also do not want to drive your current employees insane, it is probably a good idea that you hire someone who can perform the job and perform it well.
People Before Profit
If we’re honest, the reason this kind of selection does not happen often is because leaders are controlled by fear or love of profit, rather than a true love for people.
This is a heart issue that no amount of tips or takeaways can change.
We all need to regularly assess if we are following Jesus’ example in Luke 6 when we are making selection decisions, or if we are allowing other factors to drive our behavior. In that passage, Jesus was choosing the individuals whom He would entrust the Kingdom message to after His earthly ministry was over. He did not take that decision lightly.
If we are building Kingdom organizations, we too, should want to entrust them to the most trustworthy, talented, and teachable people we can find.
- EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
- The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni
- Core Value Cards (Kingdom At Work has a tool that serves as an exercise in helping you to identify and develop core values. Reach out to us if you would like more information).
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