Most of us have worked in an organization that, at one time or another, hired someone from the “outside” into a management position. Despite the negative feelings that sometimes accompany such a hire, bringing someone in from the outside is often seen as a good way to stir creativity and innovation by looking at your operations from a new perspective and with an objective set of eyes. This is especially true if the new hire is not only from outside your organization, but also from a completely different industry.
This type of hire, however, is not without risk. You cannot simply hire someone from outside your industry and expect him or her to just pick things up on his or her own. If you do, then you are setting your company and your hire up for failure. Steps must be taken to prepare the new hire for their role in the organization and to properly orient them to your business.
Since an outside hire is typically brought in primarily for their ability to shed new light on existing processes and to bring new ideas to the table, it is very important to select the right candidate and to make sure they are aware of the reasons for their hire. During the interview process, ask key questions that will give you insight into their qualifications for this role. Some examples are:
- Describe a prior experience when you were the lone opinion in a decision. What was the situation and how did you handle it?
- Give an example of a time when you had to convince others to follow your recommendation. How did you resolve the issue and what was the eventual outcome?
- In a leadership role where you were new to the team, how did you gain their trust in your judgment and how long did it take?
Make sure your candidate understands the reasons behind questions such as these. He or she will need to have the skills to effectively disagree with others when necessary and to present their point of view in a positive and persuasive manner.
An outsider to the organization will also need a mentor from the inside to help orient them to the business processes and provide guidance with respect to interaction with their team, their peers and with upper management. This mentor will need to also understand the reasons behind the new hire coming from the outside and be prepared to support them if their ideas or opinions meet with criticisms. It is important to select a mentor who is equally prepared to go against the grain at times.
The new hire's working relationship with their team and their peers needs to be built from trust and respect of differing opinions and ideas. That respect needs to go both ways. This component of an outsider’s role in the organization needs to be understood in advance of the hire if the candidate and the organization are to be successful.