Experienced management advisor Jodie Brown offers some well-tested advice regarding the best way to access talent and evaluate opportunities at this year’s NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition…
With 26,000 people competing for time and attention at the 2015 NBAA convention, it’s important to prepare now. Whether you are hiring new talent for your company or pursuing a personal career move, the annual gathering of the clan at NBAA is a significant opportunity for achieving success. Job descriptions will be updated and resumes dusted-off, but the actual test comes within the interview itself.
Professional recruiters know how to uncover the truth with well-poised questions and skillful interpretation of the answers. Career coaches can prep candidates for making a great first impression.
But for non-professional hiring managers as well as for most candidates: caveat emptor – appearances are not always what they seem; you must be able to look beyond the obvious.
When you buy aircraft or a boat, car or computer, you want to know what is driving the product’s performance. What is beneath the cowling, under the hood, or processing the data is important yet out of sight. You seek to understand the true potential of your purchase – not just the historical statistics. The same logic applies to the match of talent and opportunity.
First impressions can be deceiving. The candidate who initially might seem to be a perfect fit may indeed not work out to everyone’s satisfaction. For trusting souls, you want to head-off any unwelcome surprise. Rather than focus on the mere mechanics of conducting an interview, let’s consider some imperceptible circumstances that might steer your ultimate decision.
The director position is perfect for you, but who is pulling the strings? Is it a genuine human being or some megalomaniac? What is the motive of the potential employer? Is the individual jet owner of the Part 91 operation going to concede to become a Part 135 for tax benefits?
Although it’s impossible to foretell the future, you can draft questions to arrive at a weatherman’s prediction. For example you can ask: “Based on past history, current performance and future projections, where do you believe the current CEO, company and department are headed?”
What is really behind the candidate’s confident demeanor and polished shoes? What is the real reason the person is scouting for new opportunities? A resume may list a succession of respectable titles and stellar companies; however, the candidate’s emotional style and interpersonal traits may be poisonous to your current team, customers or business model.
Character is the key that unlocks the secret to a successful match (all things being equal given the timing, environment, support and mission). The job may require a strong personality to clean up prior mistakes, but not a bully. You want a financial expert to be a steward over your assets, but not an intractable, inflexible tyrant who sucks the energy from the people for short-term gains.
Because of the assumption that success breeds success, employers place an inordinate amount of weight on past history. People change and circumstances change. The past doesn’t guarantee future success because achievements may have been due to timing, regulations, supply and demand, or a supportive boss. Do your circumstances provide the same conditions?
Be aware of the business life cycle that requires different traits during each of its phases…
• Entrepreneurial: With a start-up flight department or aviation business, you begin with a clean slate. You need both experience and vision, but mostly you require a person who thrives on unknowns and is energized by stress. You want a skillful negotiator who can loosen tight purse strings, attract the right talent and build support.
• Mergers/Acquisitions: You want someone who can make sense of chaos and uncertainty. You need a strong and engaging personality who can patiently break down alliances and silos. The leader must be able to make painful decisions while blending cultures with a motivating vision.
• Tired and Floundering: Needed is dogged determination, a fearless soul who is not daunted by seemingly overwhelming obstacles and who can keep the team focused on its North Star. Seek a perennial optimist who will infuse new blood with a blend of characteristics: investigator and analyst, cheerleader, coach, surgeon, communicator, psychiatrist and negotiator.
• Mature and Expanding: You want a leader who will honor past glory and not scrape the business back to the foundation. You want someone to enhance the current talent and resources but with a finger on the pulse of economic opportunities. This individual has a measured and monitored approach with the ability to motivate good teams to achieve even greater success.
• Final Days: This requires someone with the financial expertise to position the business for sale or closure. Character traits needed are a keen eye to trim the fat, compassion for others, communication skills to prepare employees for a life change, and reliability to close the door of the once-living entity.
Like humans, companies have their character too – often created by their founders. Whatever position you are seeking or trying to fill, look for synergy. Job descriptions and resumes provide a good reference, yet you need to consider the driving traits. The fundamental nature of success is the dynamic human quality: the Mind within the Machine. A well-crafted and conducted interview will reveal that quality.
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