Local Authorities under sever budget pressure and wanting to "change the culture" tend to undertake a management restructuring. They hope the disaffected and incompetent will be forced out but often they are redeployed giving some one else the problem of the square peg in a round hole
Square pegs in round holes
The restructuring interviews were a revelation most of the candidates had no recent job interview experience and many had not been through a formal interview process since originally joining the organisation many ,many years ago. As they had worked for the authority for many years they didn't see why we needed to interview them. Their resentment came across in their rambling answers.
We gave detailed feedback to each of these internal candidates including how their presentation could be improved, explaining we were looking for communication skills not detailed knowledge and going through each question with them starting with what they said and then explaining what we though a good answer would have been. We emphasis the need to keep answers short and to the point. Some took the feedback well, pleased to have fuller than usual feedback that helped them see what was expected, others didn't appreciate the detail and just wanted to get the conversation over with. We explained that the posts were now to be advertised externally and that they could apply for them. The initially response was "what's the piont". To which our response was appointments would be made on the bases of interviews if they had leant from this experience and so felt they could do a better interview next time then it was very much worth their while.
The next round of interviews confirmed that despite improving on their previous performance these internal candidates were still a considerable distance behind the external candidates.
Peter was typical of this group, in his forties he had been a team leader,a trainer and a policy officer, lots of experience all in the same organisation, a reputation as clever but cynical and openly critical of senior management. He had been redeployed before and had resigned himself to being forced to take another job he didn't want, probably for less pay. In total I interviewed him for five different posts over a three month period. Each time I sat down with him to provide detailed feedback. This was a considerable investment of my time. The first couple of times Peter listened politely but as his disappointment and frustration grew at yet another rejection, the meetings became more uncomfortable. We both stuck at it and the relationship changed we now knew a lot more about each other. I was in effect mentoring and coaching him. A new non operational post came up which required some one who had a good insight into how services operated, was comfortable with statistics and had an eye for detail. I offered Peter the job working directly to me he accepted and we never looked back.
Senior managers invested in Peter and his colleagues the sort of time and energy that they normally reserve for those they see as future high flyers. The group responded positively, they did not all under go the dramatic transformation that Peter did but they were notably less cynical, more open minded about changes in the organisation and more confident in their own skills an knowledge as managers.
Blair Mcpherson former director, blogger and author www.blairmcpherson.co.uk
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