The photo above depicts the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow holding his carved pumpkin head in the palm of his hand. Are there times you feel like you are losing your head? Are you, an employee, or one of your supervisors riding on a high horse and terrorizing those nearby, including customers?
Although Halloween has passed for 2021, there are many Headless Horsemen (and women) roaming through businesses and organizations of the world. There are also other ghastly characters lurking and slinking around the workplace stirring discontent, creating strife, and generating an environment that people hate.
In my book The Furnace of Leadership Development, I wrote “unfortunately monsters exist in many organizations. All too often they are created and fed by the very people who employ them.”1 Although the business owner may fall into this category, for the purposes of the article I am focusing on employees. Who are these fiends and why do they exist? The answer to this question often begins with the hiring process.
What type of a person are you looking for? How do you screen and interview applicants to get the right individual for the position? Admittedly we are not talking about a painless process. Especially in the current environment where there is a group of people in our nation more interested in collecting unemployment from the government, i.e., taxpayer’s money, then getting up and working for a living. But frankly, do you want to employ someone like that? I doubt it.
There are applicants who look good on paper and after reading their resumé you wonder why they have not been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During an interview, these individuals may mesmerize the people doing the hiring. Be careful and ensure to ask questions that not only determine technical competence and proficiency but take the time to root out character issues as well.
You may be thinking, “Rick, I don’t have the time for that when I’m interviewing someone.” Well, pay now or pay later because once the person lacking character is hired it is only a matter of time until problems surface. If you are an organization that has a probationary period, these monsters will be on their best behavior during that time. But watch out! Once the sun sets on their probation, the fangs will come out.
You may be thinking, “OK Rick, I get it and I do not want to hire the wrong people. I do not want a monster working for me, but what can I do to avoid this?” No process can ever guarantee 100% success, but there are resources and methods to help prevent the monster from getting through the door. What about those people who do slip through the interview, get the job, and eventually cause you to lose your head? Next week I will discuss one of them: Frankenstein. If this piques your curiosity, please reach out, and let’s have a conversation about what I can do to help you.
1Davis, Richard W., The Furnace of Leadership Development (Loveland, CO: Java House Publishing, 2019), 37