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The Art of Management Selection

November 18, 1999
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Related Topics: Workforce Planning, Featured Article
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Those who practice the art of executive selection have much to be humble about. But despite the hazards involved, individuals must be singled out for top-level jobs. How, then, does a company differentiate between several candidates for critically important jobs, all of whom have survived a rigorous screening process on their way up the managerial ladder? Many variables affect executive performance, but here are three principles that offer some reasonably reliable guidance:

  • Because prescreened candidates share many qualities (usually intelligence, energy and determination), it is critical to isolate the characteristics that distinguish them. Thus, the most useful data for executive selection are comparisons, rather than descriptions—no matter how accurate or pertinent those descriptions may be.
  • When enough observers have given their impressions of a candidate’s job performance, a consensus usually emerges concerning the quality of that performance. Such a consensus is the best available predictor of how yet another observer, viewing the same individual in a context similar to that used by previous observers, will rate his or her performance.
  • Everyone is a product of his or her history. Arriving at a certain career point—how quickly, by what routes and after how many false starts—usually has some bearing on where that person is headed. Therefore, if a person’s history is known in some detail, that usually is a reasonable basis for estimating how he or she is going to perform in the near and immediate-term future.

SOURCE: Saul W. Gellerman, Ph.D., Recruitment Today, 1988. Copyright © 1988 by ACC Communications, Inc.

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