NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you're a manager, recruiting a new employee for an open position is a crucial process that you must take seriously.
You must always fill an open position with an individual who is best suited to take on the role and responsibilities and add incremental value. You don't want any candidate, but the right candidate. Whom you bring on board can significantly enhance or diminish the team's potential.
It is common during periods of change and transition for intentions and decisions to be misunderstood. Your employees may be fearful about their own status and security, particularly if broader changes have been announced.
This is a valid and reasonable response when someone else is making a decision that will impact their future. But if these fears are not justified -- for example, that the new person will be stronger, better liked and offered better opportunities -- then as their manager you need to find your team's "happy place." There has to be a reason why they feel this way -- so before any further damage occurs, you'd better perform an intervention.
An unintentional side effect when a team is dysfunctional: The candidates you try to recruit will figure this out early on and grow discouraged. Those who are desperate will overlook the obvious while the best will disappear.
It is a particular problem when your message as a manager is contradicted by your team. One of my clients is currently interviewing for a senior portfolio manager position. The fellow who would be his boss is excited to have him on board. His future peers have made it clear that he is unwelcome through subtle and not-so-subtle gestures -- like repeatedly losing his resume, keeping him waiting for meetings and continually rescheduling appointments. If he were not out of work for almost a year, he would have walked away.
How do you avoid making these mistakes? Consider the following recommendations:
1. Conduct an audit. Take some time to survey your team to determine where both its strengths and weaknesses exist. The team collectively should promote interdependence and shared knowledge. But each member deserves ownership of a role that is unique and important.
2. Do your homework. When it comes to prospective candidates, always check references thoroughly so that you don't overlook important and material issues that should have been discovered, like not delivering projects on time and on-budget or problems with authority figures.
3. Don't drop the ball. Don't assume that a top recruiting firm will identify and deliver the best candidates. No matter how impressive the recruiter's status may be, recruiters are typically focused on the transaction -- and at some point they check out and lose interest when you want them to go above and beyond.
4. Clarity is key. Be clear on the job description and what you are looking for in a candidate. When the job is a moving target and continues to be redefined along the way, it is impossible to pin down precisely what qualities and experiences will be right for you, the team and the company.
5. That box. Think creatively about candidate qualifications. Just because you can check the boxes that a candidate satisfies doesn't mean they are best-suited to address your needs and goals. Sometimes lesser skilled and experienced individuals will be hungrier and harder working.
6. All for one. Include everyone on the team in the interview process as long as it is logistically possible. When you surprise the team with a new colleague or they knowingly are omitted from the selection process, you make the team feel less important and they are more likely to become disengaged and less welcoming. That doesn't mean you let the team make the decision. That responsibility is yours.
7. Don't act on impulse. A quick fix to a staffing problem will backfire when you overlook due diligence simply to get a body to fill the gap. These folks often end up as collateral damage when they either don't fit in or are unable to get up to speed fast enough. They are the human resources equivalent of a palate cleanser -- the transition employee who is there only until a better candidate is identified. If this is standard operating procedure for you as a manager, your team will soon get the reputation as a revolving door. And when these "interim" folks realize that their days are numbered they have the potential to poison the well.