By Tom Gimbel
CREDIT: Getty Images
I recently read a profile on LinkedIn, and in the opening sentence it stated “Proven leader.” I scrolled their profile, and since 2006 they haven’t had a job longer than two years. Their role from 2000-2006 was staff-level. Leading people for less than two years and leaving (quitting or terminated) isn’t a proven leader. It’s proven the ability to sell yourself as a leader and either quitting on people or being asked to leave for not being a good leader.
I’m sure there are examples of great leaders who haven’t stayed at any company for a long time but people love working for them. Being loved and being a great leader are not the same thing. Stability is the most undervalued trait in work today.
When I talk and work with CEOs and they complain about their hires, I ask them what they thought they’d get from someone who has never stayed at a company longer than a couple years. There isn’t magic someone has just because they worked at a high-growth company for a year or two. It’s the people who grind it out. Who push though the sh*% storms and don’t leave over petty disagreements.
People who don’t leave after a short time simply for more money are managers and leaders who can get others to see the same vision and stay with your company. So when you see someone who hopped from big company to big company (or small to small) and never had a longer tenure than two or three years, really drill down as to why. Get real references.
I’m not writing about a 26-year-old who has had two jobs. I’m talking about a 30-40 year old who had a staff-level job from 22-27 at a great, high-growth company. They then get hired away at 27 to be a “leader” or a senior staff person, and after 18 months, it’s not going great, whether it’s culture, performance, etc. They then jump to the next job, and the next, and the next. And now, 10 years later, they haven’t fought through anything but have all the names of companies on their resumes.
I’ve had some success when I find these people and put them back in staff roles. Even if I pay them more, I hire them to be in production roles, since that’s where their success was. After they prove themselves in that role, we give management development training and promote them, and then they succeed. If you’re a great leader you need to see through the smoke screens and create a caring, development-focused company.
I was with a CEO of a start-up recruiting firm and he said he has only hired experienced recruiters because he doesn’t have time to tell them what to do or how to do it. He also complained about the volume of calls and work ethic of a couple of these people. “I shouldn’t have to tell them what to do!”
Why is that? Incompetency comes at all levels and at all salaries. Just because you pay someone a lot of money doesn’t mean they are good at doing the work. There are a thousand different cultures and personality types. Don’t be so naïve as to think just because you pay someone they will align with yours. Doesn’t always work that way.
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