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How about team-based hiring?

I’m sure some organizations already do this, but in terms of me, my friends, my family and people that email me about work stuff, it’s not normative.

Look, the hiring process is legitimately broken. I think we all somewhat know that, even if we don’t admit it. We claim to hire from “a sense of purpose.” We don’t. The war for talent became the war on talent.

A lot of the issue here is the actual hiring manager, i.e. the person who will be your eventual boss (in all likelihood). You absolutely need to understand one concept about work to realize why hiring sucks so badly: work is about control.

It has nothing to do with productivity, getting the best person, etc. It has to do with “I own this and that makes me relevant.” A lot of hiring managers, who are often middle managers, think this way.

They may have no idea what they need.

They might only be hiring because they feel busy, even though their team is drastically underutilized.

There’s a chance they need specific tech or project management skills that they’d never be able to assess.

But still, they gum up the works of the process because “If it’s going to be my team, I need control!”

It all mostly results in a miserable mess.

The hiring manager butts heads with the recruiting side, usually around “My job is more important than you, you’re just HR” stuff.

Ultimately the hiring manager is clueless and probably has no idea why they even need this new headcount.

But they still get to “own the process.”

Maybe we can make it better.

Hiring managers are busy, right?

Right. Very busy, in fact. Consider:

Real talk: every job I’ve ever had, aside from maybe a quick lunch on Day 1 and a few low-context emails, my direct boss has largely ignored me for the first five weeks. Now, you could argue that means I’ve had a bunch of low-value roles. You’d be right. I am not denying that.

But it’s also horrible.

In those first five weeks, who do I deal with every day?

The rest of the team.

So… why aren’t teams involved more in hiring?

Again, I’m sure they are at some places. I just don’t have a lot of people in my personal or professional orbit who have seen this.

You work with the team.

Mostly the manager hides behind technology while you’re there, aside from bellowing at you about a few projects.

So shouldn’t the team kind of interview and vet you?

Wouldn’t this make sense?

A story from my last full-time gig

I got hired into one team, in Texas. (That would be where I currently still live.)

There was one manager who mostly guided the process, along with HR.

I didn’t really meet anyone else as the process unfolded.

I take the job.

About 2 days in, it’s clear that the main people I need to work with are in Seattle, managed by someone else.

Consider how big a cluster-fuck work normally is.

Now add in these factors:

  • Time zones
  • Different incentives
  • Different approaches to work
  • Completely different teams
  • Etc, etc.

You think there was any fucking way this job could have been successful for me?

Sure, if I kissed the right ass and said nothing.

That’s not me, so …

… eventually I got canned.

You might read this section as “some guy bitching,” and that’s fine. If you’re a bit smarter, read it this way: job role is often meaningless, and how we hire for meaningless job roles makes it worse.

You work with the team. You report to the manager. Makes sense that the team should be hiring you. The manager can then — wait for it! — trust the team and manage that side of the deal.

Is this rocket science?

Ted Bauer

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