Questions to ask when identifying new talent

Selecting the best person to lead a department, function, or company can be very challenging, particularly in a complex manufacturing environment where the game is always changing.

Search firms are an excellent resource for identifying new talent but resumes and recruitment interviews provide only surface information about candidates. Psychological assessment plays a critical role in leadership selection as it adds rigor, consistency, and objectivity.

Manufacturing companies are partnering more and more with Industrial Organizational Psychologists to help them select and develop great leadership talent, so the business can focus on driving growth.

When evaluating leader candidates, clients often ask “Which candidate will build successful relationships in our culture?”, “Who will drive growth?”, “Who will promote innovation?”, “Which candidate will manage change effectively when we implement a new product line?”, and “Who will persevere when the market changes?”

In a perfect world we’d have a simple formula to calculate a candidate’s probability of success in any organization based on their smarts, previous successes, and interpersonal skills. In reality, effective selection practices go well beyond reviewing a candidate’s background, testing their ambition and intelligence, or interviewing for gut feel.

We’re probably all familiar with an intelligent, hardworking leader who enjoyed great success at Manufacturing Company A, thereby was sought out by Manufacturing Company B, and failed terribly after taking the reins. Equally as frustrating is when a high performing internal manager is promoted to a senior leadership position and doesn’t demonstrate the influence or strategic thinking skills needed to lead at that level. Unfortunately, these are common yet largely preventable scenarios.

Each company is comprised of a myriad of unique and complex characteristics, much like the people who lead them. Selecting a leader with the greatest probability of succeeding in a team or company requires us to carefully consider a number of factors such as the company’s culture, strategic vision, and the plans to achieve it.

It also requires an in-depth understanding of the position and the key characteristics required for success. Is it important to select a leader who is keenly focused on efficiency and standardization? Or is it important that the leader challenges current practices, facilitates ideation, and encourages innovation?  Maybe it’s a balance of both, or perhaps it’s something else altogether.

Either way, it’s critical to identify the nuances and assess leaders against these criteria.

Partnering with an assessment expert to define success criteria and assess top talent enables a company to select the best person accurately and expediently. Industrial Organizational Psychologists specializing in leadership assessment tailor combinations of personality assessments, cognitive ability assessments, and customized in-depth interviews too efficiently and effectively measure a candidate’s probability of success in a position and company.

By focusing on the unique blend of characteristics needed to be successful, we can deliver relevant insights about a person’s ability to drive business outcomes, even in the most complex manufacturing environment.


Jaclyn Lanier, Ph.D.About the Author:

Jaclyn Lanier, Ph.D.
Lanier Leadership Consulting

Jaclyn Lanier, Ph.D. is an Industrial Organizational Psychologist with experience designing and conducting assessments for a wide range of client organizations, from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses. Dr. Lanier specializes in individual assessment, development, and coaching for leaders across a variety of functional areas and industries. She has evaluated thousands of individuals for critical executive roles such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel to entry level managerial positions in manufacturing plants and small retail companies.




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