Search Committees Need a Clue

A friend who works in a university told me about her school’s search for a new administrative department head. In passing she said she was surprised that the search committee hadn’t bothered to include input from the department’s current staff.

Perhaps the search committee wanted to change that department’s culture by bringing in a new leader, and they didn’t think it worthwhile to hear what the staff had to say? That was my initial (and feeble) attempt to explain their rationale. But it’s still no reason to overlook the people who have a major stake in the search’s outcome – after all, they’re the ones who have to live with the new boss.

Don’t Mind Us, We Just Work Here

The more my friend and I discussed this, the more upset we got … especially since we also recalled similar instances from our experience in nonprofit and corporate organizations. In many cases it seemed the search committees showed a blatant disregard and disrespect for the staff. Their message was loud & clear: “Why should we bother with the employees’ two cents when they’re not in positions of authority to determine who their boss should be?”

I’m not saying the staff should make the hiring decision. But they should be given the opportunity to offer feedback on the nature of their work and the type of person who might best lead their department.

I just don’t understand why the folks most invested in the department – those closest to the work – are the least likely to be asked for their input. Go figure …

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