This week has been insightful and energizing as I have read through several materials and participated in online discussions. I did my first couple of posts very academically as I have been trained so well to do through undergrad and into my graduate work. This week I would like to take a spin off my traditional posts and explore something that has been “irking“ me. We were required to read a Harvard Business Case by Groysberg, Balog, & Hamison (2007), “Recruitment of a Star”. This case deeply analyzed the predicament of an executive trying to replace one of his best analysts whom left for a competitor with no notice.
I was engaged while reading this case, as most of the cases we have been assigned have been dry, or rather irrelevant to me personally. I was overwhelmed when I saw that this case was lengthy, but surprised when I couldn’t put it down. While reading the case we were introduced to the prospective candidates and their credentials as well as some personal traits. The case ends with the executive needing to make his decision. Immediately I asked, “What? They are not going to tell us?!?!”. There were many facets and personalities that the executive needed to consider, but his ultimate goal was to hire and retain a “star” that would be a good cultural fit for his organization and perform well for his customers.
Something that I have learned in the MBA program that it is important to use framework when doing analysis. Without a proper framework you get disorganized and can get lost in your own noise. Instinctually I had an idea of who I would make the offer to, but going with my gut would have been an irresponsible “unexecutive” type of move. I have been given the name “quick draw” (from my former boss) and I would like to learn to take my time and make the right choice instead shooting for the sake of shooting.
I created a framework based on a point system. Taking the executive’s core qualities and preferences as he had outlined in the beginning of the case that his ideal candidate would possess. I was excited when completing my framework that the candidate that I had instinctively pre-chose was the one with the most points in the end. This was no longer an emotional decision, this was the right decision. I also reflected on a recent round of interviews my own company where we performed group interviews on three candidates. We were all over the place when we evaluated these poor interviewees. Finally our company recruiter asked us to individually point the candidates in three areas, and the candidate with the most points was offered the position.
In reading The Toyota Way this week, an underlying message kept sinking in, “do the right thing”. Don’t do what is best for your stockholders; don’t do what is best for your margins, just do the right thing. This is my interpretation of course, but this circles back to the case and how surprised I was when reading my cohort’s responses online. Many picked the same candidate as I did, well some for different reasons. Some picked the candidate that was last on my list. It was a diverse pool of selections and all for slightly different reasons. To the credit of many, they were VERY creative in their solutions, but I am not going to lie I felt a sinking sad feeling as I read many of their posts. Some didn’t like a candidate due to their age, some liked that the candidate was closer to retirement age so the high salary wouldn’t be a long-term issue. The candidate I selected had two small children, however she never told the executive about her children, she asked about working from home and flexibility, but never asked for specific scheduling favors or stated she couldn’t make it work. It was assumed by so many that this was a “potential issue”. Why?
At the end of 2013, why is it even a consideration if a woman is a mother? Why would a woman who has two small children not be able travel? Why were so many quick to draw negative assumptions on this candidate? One male candidate had worked so hard (workaholic) and in his profile that it stated his marriage ended as a result of this and his wife left him and took his two children with her. This candidate couldn’t balance his personal life, but no one called him out for it. In the same respect almost half of my class did mention the mother of two small children may be a “problem”. I am frustrated that we, as tomorrow’s leaders didn’t all conclude that the idea of a mother who hesitated about travel was not necessarily a “bad” candidate.
Today’s technology allows for thoughtful business travel, as Scientificamerican.com reported (2009), “videoconferencing business is growing by some 20 percent a year, reaching $1.5 billion in scale in 2007”. We need to understand that yes people like personal touches, but getting on a plane with a snap of a customer’s fingers can actually be non-cost effective, waste of valuable “working” time, and not innovative. Maybe by 2113, women won’t be disqualified for having children, until then if I find a potential star candidate that is young, old, male, female, grandmother, transgender, mother, father, or __________ (?) it will not be used in my decision to hire.
I hope that if ANYONE rejects a woman for employment just because she is a mother that they end up hiring a man that treats his dog like a child and gives the company the supposed grief that hiring a mother may have given them.
Take My Poll:
Groysberg, B., Balog, S., & Haimson, J. (2007). Recruitment of a Star. Cambridge: Harvard Business School Publishing. Case 9-407-036.
Liker, J. K. (2004). The Toyota Way: 14 management principles from the world’s greatest manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- The Truth About the Candidate Experience (talentchatter.com)
- Reflection#2 (ebenpobee.wordpress.com)
- Eight tips to increase diversity (theglobeandmail.com)
- Harvard Business School Publishing crosses the ‘evil’ academic line (digitopoly.org)
- Recruiting by Videoconference Saves Money, But at What Cost? (healthcarevoice.typepad.com)