Spotting, hiring and keeping good talent is a crucial, but difficult task under ordinary circumstances. When you're hiring someone who will be charged with managing employees, the stakes are raised even higher. Keep an eye out for special traits harbored by special potential managers.
Value references from the bottom, not just the top
It is common for anyone seeking a job - specifically if they're seeking a position as a manager - to proudly present references from the CEO, the owner, their regional manager. It is natural to try to get a documented nod from the biggest boss with the heaviest title. But a manager's job is to lead.
He or she can’t do it by themselves, and the very best managers find a way to bring out the best in their subordinates. Keep a special eye on the candidate who is just as proud of references that come from those who worked under him or her in their last position.
Alpha dogs aren't always good leaders
As discussed in the article "Five Real-World traits of the best managers today," the authoritative approach is yesterday's news. Every moment a manager spends asserting his or her dominance is a lost opportunity to display genuine empathy and develop loyalty in the arena of ideas.
Look for managers who build morale by delegating responsibility and then trusting those who accept it with responsibility.
Weigh personality as heavily as experience
Many candidates look great on paper. They may have impressive educational bona fides and stellar work experience. But in real life, sometimes the best "qualified" candidates come off as wooden or un-relateable to the people they are charged with managing.
Although not every manager is going to possess contagious charisma, they must relate to their subordinates on some level to garner respect and loyalty.
Disqualify - then hire!
This tip is one of the ground rules for hiring at Microsoft. Optimism is nice, as long as it has been tempered with healthy skepticism. Look for every possible flaw with your candidate. Seek out every chink in the armor of their job-interview facade.
Once you diligently and meticulously seek out the potential negatives and find them to be acceptable, you can bask in all that is good about your new manager.
When hiring managers; place a greater premium on empathy than on assertive authority. Look closely for flaws to avoid making decisions based solely on optimism. Most importantly, remember that you're hiring a leader - his or her ability to connect with subordinates is as important as on-paper qualifications.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance business writer. He covers staffing and business management.