Hiring = Legacy

"The boss gets, on average, two serious hiring decisions a year.  Suppose you're in a job five years.  That's no more than ten big decisions.  Those decisions more or less determine your legacy." - From The Little Big Things by Tom Peters


Holy cow - your legacy??  Those are some strong words.  I read this statement a few months ago and it has managed to stick with me ever since.  The more I think about it, Peters may be on to something.  Not only do I believe his estimate on the number of hiring decisions is accurate, I also believe the hires the "boss" makes can make a significant impact on his or her longterm success. 


In the world of the school superintendent, those "serious" hiring decisions usually mean selecting new school principals.  Not only will these newly-hired administrators be asked to lead a large group of staff members, they will also have a direct impact on thousands of students for - most likely - the rest of their lives.  I'd say this is hugely important decision that lies on the shoulders of a superintendent! 

One thing I have realized over my fifteen years in education is how important it is to get buy-in from staff when selecting the next school principal.  I have noticed that some school districts do a great job of asking employees for their input, while others seem to neglect this part of the process.  Perhaps there could be reasons as to why school districts need to keep their hiring processes relatively quiet, but I am of the belief that "the more input the better" when it comes to selecting a new school principal. 

Last month we had the chance to hire a new high school principal.  To ensure our high school staff had an opportunity for input on the decision, we implemented a hiring process that was transparent as possible.  While describing the whole process would take several pages worth of writing, here is the document that outlines many of the steps that were taken. 

One part of the process I do want to highlight was the staff meeting we had with the entire high school staff (teachers and support staff).  During this meeting, we asked the staff to develop the key characteristics and "look fors" they wanted in a new high school principal that were aligned with the Iowa Standards for School Leaders as well as other "must haves."  These characteristics - which were ultimately voted upon by school staff - were then implemented into the remainder of the selection process.  

Although there are aspects of this hiring approach of which I believe we can do better next time, the feedback I received from the staff was very positive.  I would encourage all "bosses" - regardless of profession - to look for ways to make your "serious hiring decisions" as transparent as possible for the purpose of receiving buy-in and commitment to the new leader from staff members.




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