Lawrence Bossidy, who rose through the ranks of executives at General Atlantic and then retired as the CEO of AlliedSignal says something that modern businesses are ignoring:
“Bet on people, not on strategies.”Lawrence Bossidy
Strategies exist everywhere – in running a business, in defining a job role, and even when you order a drink at the bar. And what are strategies? They are simply a cluster of plans to achieve a specific goal.
So, when you are lagging behind on strategy implementation, what do you do? Simple, just increase the number of goals or start micromanaging them. Breakup a larger goal into smaller pieces and achieve them to drive the strategy forward. But who makes these strategies? Who works on these plans? People.
People design strategies. It is a person who thinks, “I cannot eat more than 5 burgers so I should just order 2.” It is a person who tells you, “This man is not the right guy for this job. We need a thinker, not a follower.” People exist everywhere; people are clamoring to get a job in this tight-knitted landscape; people will literally kill to get a job.
But what does it mean for your business? Do you just hire the first candidate your gut says yes to? How do you make sure that the people you are betting on are capable enough to work and improve a strategy instead of blindly following the same route? How do you hire right person for your business?
Here's what you will learn
The greatness of humans
The stories say that an evil serpent persuaded the first man and woman to eat the forbidden fruit. Well, that is true or not, I do not know, but it did one thing – propelled the human species to the great beings we are today. Our ability to analyze, interpret, and understand puts us at the top of the food chain.
That same ability has led to hundreds of innovations that changed the pinnacle of their era – wheel, fire, bow & arrow, boats, nuclear weapons, war, and whatnot. But what happened suddenly? If we believe the serpent story, maybe eating the forbidden apple ignited a mutation in humans. Nonetheless, our evolution from mere senseless apes to who we are today shows one thing – something caused the mutation of our cognitive abilities.
So, when we have to hire right person for the business, why do we pretend to be apes instead of the humans we have evolved to become?
Today, I am here to guide you to understand one thing – successful recruiting starts with a thorough understanding of the goals, strengths, and needs of the organization. And how you can use this understanding to make sure that you have hired the right candidate.
Do you have the wrong mentality?
Most business owners think that it is not important to hire right person. They can hire anyone and then train the said person to work according to them. But they ignore what all great start-ups identify, what all Fortune 500 companies place emphasis on, and what is undoubtedly the most important thing for the success of any business – hiring great people.
“Hire smart, or manage tough.”Red Scott
This is the golden rule in any business. No matter how many years you will spend hiring and firing employees, you will never run into an entrepreneur or an executive who managed tough. I know, it gives off a sense of challenge, to be able to tame the wild animal. But it doesn’t work. And your employees are not wild animals needing to be tamed.
So, do not try to control the uncontrollable and play with fire. It is only going to burn your hands no matter how hard you try. There is no atonement for the sin of a weak hiring decision. The hope of a weak hire becoming a great employee is shallow. All those LinkedIn posts you see about giving them a chance, taking a risk are stupid. It is your business at risk, not theirs.
Consequently, it is important for you to identify is you have hired the right person or not. And how do you do that?
The only way forward for successful recruiting
There are many choices that you can make when any new vacancy comes up; promote someone from the team, ask your employees for referrals, have your friends and family interview for the role, yadda yadda yadda.
You also have to make sure that the candidate you have hired is the right candidate for the job and you will not be asked to find a new one after a few weeks. But how does that actually work? How do you ensure that you hire right person? Well, there are a few common pitfalls and cliches that you definitely need to avoid. And I am not here to talk about the cliches.
Here are five ways that you can make sure that your CEO does not call you into the cabin once again to shout about the kind of recruits you are sourcing and how your inability to hire a great employee is the cause of the impending destruction of the business.
1. What value do they bring to the company?
Before signing their contract, ask yourself – what is the employee’s worth to you? And I do not mean their salary and their compensation. No, I mean their value. When you are hiring for any position in a company, the first thing you should look for is what is the value they bring to the table. It is all about value.
Let me tell you a story. DreamWorks SKG, now DreamWorks Pictures, went public without a studio, a film, and no star. Yet, the investors bought their bonds. Why? Because it had the value of its founders – Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. One is called one of the greatest directors of all time, one is a producer with successful hits, and one is a business magnate with an eye for profit.
The person’s value is how much someone is willing to pay to obtain something from them. Are you willing to pay them enough and trust them enough to bet on them? If not, then you are not making the right hire.
2. See how they react under pressure
“As many architects will tell you, human behavior changes according to the environment.”Peter Gabriel, English singer, songwriter, record producer, and activist
When Tom McLane had to hire a new store manager for his small family shop, he sat down with every candidate for a face to face interview and began with this question:
“What is your favorite Eminem song?”
Some candidates answered it pretty fast and some struggled with it. But here is the amazing part, Tom would ask the same question over and over again after every few questions. Now you must be thinking Tom is half deaf. But no, Tom puts his candidates under pressure.
According to Tom:
“Most of my employees are elderly people who just want to help out at a store and do something good in their day. But that means being unfamiliar with the new tech, forgetting things, and having to keep asking the same things again.
When I ask them over and over again about their favorite Eminem song and they get irritated, it means they will not be able to handle his old employees asking the same questions and doubts over and over again.
The last thing I want is to have a hotshot store manager shout and berate my employees because they dared ask the same questions again and again.”
This is a short lesson on human behavior. One of the most important characteristics of your team should be to get along well and keep their act together under pressure. You do not want to hire someone who breaks down when things do not go according to the plan or someone who berates their colleagues or subordinates in front of the entire office. Hire right person, one who has compassion and empathy for everyone.
3. Is the person genuinely interested in the work of the organization?
According to Patty Stonesifer, chief executive of Martha’s Table, “I can get a really good sense of whether I want to be working with somebody when I walk them through the place.”
Many executives, when have to fill a strategic position, like to invite the candidate on a meal. For many candidates, it may be a free dinner but for the executives, it is an exercise, an opportunity to look beyond the act of the candidates and determine if they are genuinely interested in the work your business is doing.
People who study behavioral psychology say that people are most relaxed when they are having a good meal; they are more likely to be true. Things that help you determine if they will be a great fit for you are:
Do they run through the door or let others pass? This shows if they have leadership qualities in them and put the needs and problems of their colleagues before their personal gain.
Are they polite to the server? Simple things like saying “Thank you” when the server sets their dish on the table or passing a smile to the server tells you that they treat everyone with respect, irrespective of their status.
Can they ask smart questions? Over lunch or dinner and in informal settings, the candidate is more likely to be relaxed. Monitor if they can initiate conversation, ask smart questions, or keep a conversation going with meaningful questions.
4. Are they smarter than you?
“I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”Lee Iacocca, American automobile executive
I am sure that you are familiar with the crab theory. No? Oh, it is quite simple. Put a lot of crabs in a bucket and wait. You’ll see that if any crab tries to come out of the bucket, another crab pulls it back. This is a classic example of “if I cannot have it, neither can you.”
The problem with hiring all the crabs in your team is that they will not push for growth and will not let others grow as well. The result? You’ll be working with a team of people doing the bare minimum and no real innovation.
Instead, hire people who are smarter than you. Hire people who offer perspective and value to the company. The best way to do this is to ask questions and dive deeper into their answers. Candidates are often taken aback when the interviewer keeps asking questions going a level deeper into their answers and you can check if they are able to hold their ground.
People who are smarter than you will drive your organization forward. And this is an effective way of checking if you hire right person or not.
5. See their social media profiles
Internet is a gold mine of information and you definitely want to know everything about a potential candidate you are looking to work with.
Shanna Landolt is a renowned recruitment expert with four international bestsellers out of six books she’s authored. She shares a recruiting story that goes like this:
“I was looking for a store manager for a retail hobby and tooling store. Oh, this story is from years ago, remember that. Anyway, I thought I had the perfect candidate; he had a passion for carving, woodworking, managing, etc. A retired police officer and my kinda guy, perfect. The client was happy and I was happy but then I got the call. They asked me, “Did you see Saturday’s newspaper?” I replied casually with a no. And then I found it; my perfect candidate’s home got raided for illegally confiscating guns.”
Why am I telling you this story? Because the last thing you want is to have a serial killer in your office. Or someone who is an extremist in their views. Or someone who is regularly involved with controversies. Anything can happen.
So, just give their social profiles a quick run to see what kind of conversations they involve themselves in, thoughts they share over the internet, and do their views resonate with those of your company and colleagues. It’ll give you an additional confirmation that you are hiring the right candidate.
Is it that easy to hire right person? Maybe yes. Maybe no. And where does your HR function end? When you source the perfect candidate? No. When you track all the recruitment metrics? No. When you have the winner, the ideal candidate? No. It ends when you are sure that the candidate you have zeroed down on is the right choice. The above methods are just ways to judge a candidate. But what most interviewers say is that trusting their instinct is the best way to determine whether their choice was right or not.
Using recruitment metrics can help you smoothen the process and save you a lot of time and energy in attracting or interviewing the wrong candidates. It is much easier to choose the best candidate out of a pool of right ones rather than choosing a good candidate from a pool of unfit ones.