Article · 8 minute read

Overcoming the Challenges of Manager Selection

By Katie Herridge 12th June 2023

Our previous article ‘What is the true cost of hiring a bad manager?’ highlighted the organization-wide ramifications of bad managers and the importance of good manager selection. In this follow-on article, we look at some of the key challenges we hear from clients who are selecting candidates at the manager, team leader or supervisor level, and offer some tips to help overcome them.

Challenge – We want to know if our candidates will be good managers.

We know that good managers drive better financial performance, help create a thriving culture, boost engagement, and help organizations to retain their employees.  During the selection process, a review of CVs can help provide an indication of previous experience. However, this may not give a good prediction of how a candidate will perform in your role.  This can also be more difficult if there is a lack of consensus in your organization around how you define what a good manager is. 

For candidates with no previous management experience, it can be hard to gauge if your candidate will be able to make effective management decisions through these type of selection methods. We see many organizations offering managerial promotion to individuals who are skilled in their role area. However, being skilled in a current role does not always equate to having the right people skills to be able to manage others effectively.

Solution – Understand what good looks like in selection.

The first step to overcoming the challenges of manager selection is to fully understand what constitutes a good manager. We recommend our clients start with getting a true understanding of what the drivers of success are for their current managers by participating in a ‘Performance Driver Analysis’.  To enable this analysis, current managers complete Manager Situations and a short behavioral questionnaire, Match 6.5.  This data, along with manager performance data is then analyzed to learn what drives effective performance and an optimized scoring algorithm is created.  This algorithm is used to power a Role Fit score for your future manager hiring.  

Future selection campaigns deploy Manager Situations alongside Match 6.5 and your organization’s unique Role Fit scores are calculated.  Recruiters now have the data to screen out those with lower potential in an accurate and fair way.   

Manager Situations on a variety of devices

Our new Manager Situations assessment has been designed specifically for use with line managers, supervisors and team leaders. Candidates are assessed against a series of engaging management scenarios which target the attributes that matter most for effective performance in your specific manager role.

Challenge – We need to save time.

For candidates at management level, time is precious. Likewise, recruiter time spent reviewing experience on CVs and conducting competency-based interviews can have a significant cost to an organization. It’s important to ensure that the candidates making it through to the more time-consuming stages, such as final interviews with senior members of the organization, are the candidates who are most likely to perform well in the role.  

Solution – Make the process time-effective for both candidate and recruiter.  

Candidate and recruiter time can be minimized by utilizing assessment methods which give you maximum validity in a short amount of time. Our behavioral screener Match 6.5 can be completed in just 6.5 minutes and easily combined with Manager Situations, which takes less than 15 minutes to complete. This means that in around 20 minutes of candidate testing time you can get a picture of how effective your candidate is likely to be across a range of management scenarios and whether they have the behavioral role fit for your organization. 

Recruiters are able to view this data quickly and easily, hone in on the best candidates and screen out those with lower potential to succeed.

Challenge – We want to reduce the cost of making a bad hire.

The costs of making a bad hire at management level can reverberate across many layers of the organization. We touched on many of these in our previous article, such as the impact poor management can have on overall levels of employee engagement, leading to retention issues and reduction in levels of productivity which will have financial implications. A study by the US Labour Department suggests that it costs around 30% of an employee’s salary to hire a replacement (1). A poor manager who needs to be replaced could therefore equate to a £150,000 rehiring cost (based on a manager’s income of £50,000). It’s clear that there is much to think about beyond the financial costs of the initial recruitment process.    

Solution – Increase the likelihood of selecting the right manager.

We help our clients to reduce the likelihood of making a bad hire by increasing the validity of the  selection process. Combining assessments such as a Match 6.5 and Manager Situations, significantly increases the validity of the selection process. Increasing validity greatly reduces the chance of making a bad hire. Our data demonstrates that using a Situational Judgment Test in conjunction with a behavioral screener, such as Match 6.5, can help reduce the risk of making a bad hire from 1 in 5 to around 1 in 30.  

Challenge – We want to win the war for talent.

Good managers are in high demand. It’s therefore important to be able to engage them early in the selection process with your organization and the role.  A process which is too time consuming or involves lengthy application forms will feel laborious, reflects poorly on your organization, and may result in you losing out on the best candidates to competitors. 

Solution – Quickly engage managers with your role and organization.   

It’s important to think about your selection process through the eyes of your managerial applicants. 

  • What is it saying about your organization?
  • What does it tell them about your products or services?
  • What information does it give them about the role itself?
  • Does it showcase you as an organization that best utilizes people’s time and efforts?

Your assessment process can be used to build engagement with your organization and role. Using an upfront screening tool such as Manager Situations provides you with the flexibility to showcase your organization’s products or services, allowing you to immediately build engagement, maximize impact and attract managers to what’s unique about your management role. 

Selection processes which provide the opportunity to showcase your organization can help give applicants a realistic preview of the role and are an opportunity for you to build early engagement, attracting managers who are most suited to your organization.  

Challenge – We want to select managers who are most likely to stay.

Selection processes use up time and cost, so it stands to reason that the best approach is to not only select the right manager, but to find a good match that results in a lengthy hire. Results from our survey ‘Are You Switching On or Switching off Your Applicants?’ found that top of applicants’ priorities during the application stage is that it leads to a job with long-term prospects, with 91% of applicants surveyed saying that they wanted the online screening process to ‘result in a job they want to stay in’.

Solution – Implement a selection process that will boost retention.  

There are a number of ways that the selection process can be used to boost retention. Firstly, it’s important to be clear on what the requirements are for the role itself so that your potential candidates can select themselves out of the process if they feel it’s not going to be right for them in the longer term. Give thought to what information is shared in the job description and how assessments can be used to give a realistic job preview. Take the time to regularly review your careers and social pages to see if they give a good interpretation of the culture of your organization and share successful career stories from a diverse range of employees.

All Wave-powered assessments have an Onboarding Report available. Onboarding Reports can be generated from the selection assessment and be used to improve retention by providing a more positive onboarding experience.

Challenge – We want to overcome bias and ensure a fair, inclusive process.

Ensuring good Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in your hiring practices is crucial to building a diverse and productive organization. Focusing on aligning manager selection activity to DE&I will ensure a better employee experience, increased employee retention, career development and a mix of skills that all team members will be able to benefit from. However, decision making in selection can be prone to bias. At the manager/team leader level, bias such as ‘similar-to-me’ bias can result in organizations selecting-in only one type of manager, leading to a lack of creativity and innovation.

Solution – Utilize assessments to ensure good DE&I in hiring decisions.

One way to help be more objective and fairer in hiring decision-making is to bring the use of valid assessment data forward to the very front end of the application process. Processes that put assessments right at the forefront have better outcomes when it comes to DE&I, as it ensures decision making is based on objective data right from the start, reducing the risk of unconscious bias.

Take the first step to overcoming the challenges of manager selection with Manager Situations – our scenario-based assessment designed specifically for recruiting effective managers.

About the Author
Katie Herridge

Katie is Product Project Manager at Saville Assessment and has nearly 20 years’ experience of providing assessment solutions for our clients. 

You can connect with Katie on LinkedIn here

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