Cronyism. Why you shouldn't just recruit your mates . . .

Over the last 10 months we've been working with clients to build sustainable resourcing functions that enable them to attract new talent and progress existing high performers. We've also researched hiring patterns and looked at what stops talent being hired and progressed. Senior managers 'hiring their mates' or people they have worked with previously, as a opposed to the best person for the job, has come up as a frequent and unexpected barrier.

Cronyism is an issue all business leaders need to be aware of. In our experience here are just three of the problems it can cause:

1. A lack of diversity and new ideas. The thing with croynism is that it stifles new ideas, innovation and continuous improvement and instead rewards loyalty above all else . . . often even above performance and capability. In the longer term it will create a culture of just saying 'yes' in order to be included which is not sustainable for any business.

2. A loss of talent. If you only recruit or promote your mates the chances are you're not appointing the best person for the job and are ignoring existing talented employees who have the capability, experience and desire to progress. The people you really want to retain and engage will see this, feel dissatisfied, have their career opportunities stifled and leave. This will lessen your business performance and damage your employer brand along the way.

3. A 'them' and 'us' culture. The consequence of adopting a crony based approach is that you will likely develop a 'them' and 'us' culture with the perception that one group of people, those in favour with the leader, will be treated better than those not in the inner circle. A culture of suspicion and a lack of trust between the group will develop over time and this will result in dissatisfaction and poor communications across your business or department, hindering team work and the ability to get things done.

So, what can you do? There are a few things we build with our clients to make sure they get the best person for the job. Here are some of our ideas:

A. Take the recruitment power away from the line manager. This is a principle we've researched and have proudly borrowed from Google. We figured if it's good enough for them then there must be something in it. It's not about taking the line manager out of the recruitment process altogether (they'll still be involved in the first stage) but they can't make the final decision which should be made by an independent second stage interview panel. We think this is a good way to protect your culture and ensure the best person for the job is selected.

B. Make your recruitment and talent management processes transparent and objective. Before you go into the recruitment process make sure you have a clear documented set of assessment criteria of qualities and experiences you are looking for in a great candidate. This should be agreed collaboratively, not just in the view of the recruiting line manager. You can then tailor your interview questions to explore this criteria. It's a similar situation for talent processes - it's important to collaborate through a facilitated forum to identify who your high performing future leaders and take a cross reference of views.

C. Involve your teams in the recruitment processes. We'll nail our colours to the mast here . . . we think employees can be trusted and will act with the best interests of the business at heart. We also think they are expertly aware of the type of person the team needs and what a good manager will look like. This is why they should be involved in selection decisions and it shouldn't just be in the remit of senior managers. It won't just build trust in your managers, it will also increase levels of employee engagement too.

We would be interested to hear your views . . . what do you think?

If you and your business are starting to think about how you can ensure you select the very best candidates, with a fair, transparent process which will provide a great candidate experience as well as maximising your business performance, then get in touch with us today. You can find us, or 07825 211398.

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