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Plutarch: Thoughts on People Management


Beyond Search: Will your New Hire Live up to Expectations?

Monday 17th December 2018


Getting a new hire to a senior leadership team to live up to the hopes of everyone involved is tough. Finding people able to lead their function is fundamental but often expectations mean that achieving a highly successful hire is a different challenge altogether.


Distilling desires and expectations into a defined purpose of the hire is crucial. This goes beyond defining the responsibilities of the role. It’s about setting out what the agenda is for the role and identifying their desired contribution to the leadership team.

Candidates can be assessed using 3 key questions:

  • Does their personality as well as their skill set fit the agreed agenda for the role?
  • Could they make the desired contribution to the performance of the leadership team and its members?
  • Will they successfully make the transition to succeed?

We've asked Adrian Letts, Managing Director of Online at Tesco, and Alex Holland, VP of Talent & Development at RS Components, for their thoughts.


Aligning Personality and Skill Set to the Agenda

Just because someone succeeded in role in company A does not mean they are well placed to succeed in the same role in company B. What matters is whether there is consistency between the things they have actually done and the agenda for the role, as well as how their personality informed this performance.

As a psychologist who works closely with Hunter-Miller puts it "the temptation is always to hire based on (industry) track record rather than on alignment to the actual agenda for the role."

It all begins with really defining what the agenda for the role is. Do you want radical change? Are you going for profit or growth? Can the function thrive in isolation or is collaboration key? The answers to such questions become the agenda. It is relatively easy to translate this into a blueprint for the ideal candidate, their personality and skills. It’s worth considering the culture of the organisation when exploring this as well, otherwise there is a risk of tissue rejection slowing or halting progress. Using people who are steeped in the organisation as part of the evaluation and onboarding of talent can be hugely helpful in getting this right.


Leadership Team Dynamics

According to Adrian Letts, Managing Director of Online at Tesco, "when you look at successful teams, so much in the end comes down to the senior leader, as the ultimate coach, defining the purpose of the team and how each member contributes and interacts."

To have the leadership team itself add up to more than the some of its parts, consideration should be given to each individual’s contribution amongst other leaders. Will the new hire’s preferred team role exacerbate any negative tendencies in the dynamics of the leadership team or mitigate them? Are there any obvious team role preference clashes with other team members that will need management? A degree of conflict and tension are inevitable and often positive but if they are not anticipated and managed, they can be highly disruptive.


Making the Transition

"A new individual needs quickly to understand the language, behaviours and interpersonal dynamics of their new organisation, and be able to adapt and flex their style accordingly" says Alex Holland, VP of Talent & Development at RS Components. "They can’t assume that taking the same approach in the new organisation will be successful. In many organisations, cultural fit is as important as the skills, capabilities and experiences an individual brings."


What worked for the newly recruited individual in the past may no longer be so effective. If the earlier questions are well answered, the fundamental alignment should be there but the incoming individual must still have strengths in reading people and situations as well as an ability to modify their own behaviours accordingly. Moreover, they must have the desire and ambition required to do so.

Sometimes attributes such as flexibility are derided as ‘political’ style or even as a lack of assertiveness but they can be fundamental to establishing a thriving leadership and culture in an organisation. The ambition of the new arrival, however, cannot be wholly selfish. They have to be a person who can set the organisation’s agenda ahead of their own. They need to be prepared to do the right thing, when it comes down to it.

How Hunter-Miller can help
A Senior Hire Psychometric Assessment will align desires and expectations into a defined purpose and mitigate the risks involved.



If you would like to find out more about our services in this area, do get in touch


Plutarch in no way claims to offer comprehensive statistical reports – the absence of numbers reveals that much, and individual confidentially remains his priority. Nonetheless Hunter-Miller's vast network offers compelling anecdotal evidence, and some occasionally interesting insights.

What would you be interested to know? Get in touch.