Three Key Essentials to Management Level Hiring

It’s a cliché to say that “our people are our greatest asset.” Calling it overused would be an understatement. The funny thing is, it is quite a true statement. Your people are your greatest asset and give your firm a brand identity, a reputation in the marketplace, and a certain feeling that emanates from your offices.

The problem with the statement is that it is not just your people by themselves that make the difference. It is the team that your people form and how they collectively serve the needs of your clients, carrying out an intentional corporate culture and strategy consistently over time. This is what makes the difference and separates one company from another, with no two being alike.

When to Hire: Chicken or the Egg?

There are two primary reasons why managers are hired for construction. The driving reason is because the firm is going after work and there are no existing leaders who are ready to perform it. In this case, it is the potential project driving the hiring bus.

The second reason is for strategic growth’s sake. In this case, a firm may decide to open an office in a city and needs someone from there to manage it who knows their way around. Perhaps the firm’s strategic plan calls for a few managers to be hired to accomplish the anticipated growth over the next 12-24 months. The first year can be a steep learning curve to master the company and their approach to projects or work acquisition (which some call business development).

My clear preference is the second reason. Hire when you are not desperate. Hire for growth. Do not just hire because you have the need to fill a warm body into a new project. That can be very risky all the way around.

Owners are not naïve, nor are they stupid. If they find out that your project team was hired to cover your needed résumé on the project, your firm will get a black mark against it.

The exception would be if they know the person and like their work. That is acceptable. However, you will probably have to pay top dollar and a premium bump to acquire said individual. This can upset the pay scale in your firm and cause division and dissension in the ranks.

If you pursue management talent on a more relaxed time frame, you can hire excellent executives for an attractive package without having to give the farm away and perhaps, in the process, select a keeper who will stay long term.

Three Hiring Essentials

My overview of hiring top talent to help your firm grow lies in three essential keys for you to consider as you move forward:

ESSENTIAL #1: The Executive Must Be a Good Cultural Fit

I believe that this first key essential should be the biggest deal breaker of them all. The following is a strong statement, but my experience and many others have proven it to be true. If you hire someone who does not fit your corporate culture, you are making a hiring mistake that will cost you significantly in time and money over the long term. Don’t do it.

This is presuming that you understand and realize what your corporate culture is. Every firm has one, but not every firm has their culture clearly spelled out. I think it is wise to be clear what your organizational DNA is and do a good job of communicating it (first) internally and (second) externally. This approach will save your human resource (HR) effort so much time and money that there is no way to calculate it.

For example, let’s say you are a small, privately held contractor that focuses on design-build negotiated projects, and you value teamwork, excellent communicators, and those who appreciate various sports. There is a certain mindset and person who fits into this set of values. You can consider each of these cultural elements when hiring.

Make sure moving forward that your culture is clear to your employees and to the marketplace. People are attracted to ce