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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hiring New People? Good Enough is Not Good Enough!

Talking to one of my Vistage members this week, he said that he had decided to hire someone whom he had known for some time and who he rated as an excellent potential manager is his business.

“That’s good news” I said: “What is the job she will take on?”

“I haven’t decided yet” he said: “It’s just that she is right for the business and we will find the right place for her, or even create one.”  Brilliant!

Some time ago my Vistage group heard Dr Lee Thayer, a great speaker on leadership from the USA, talk about virtuosity and the need to hire only virtuosi.  Lee made the point that in order to become a high performing organisation, the standard of individuals within the organisation has to be of the highest standard throughout.  See http://leethayer.typepad.com/.

That concept has stuck with me since hearing Lee, and there is no doubt that his strictures have spread throughout the vast number of management theorists (and practitioners, for that matter).  Take, for instance, Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, who says that we need to “get the right people on the bus” and there are many other instances of writers extolling the need for virtuosity in your people.

The challenge is to avoid the HR Elastoplast approach which says that we replace a leaver with, effectively, a clone so that we eliminate as far as possible the need for significant change.

Nothing could be more pointless.   It is much better to look on someone leaving the business as an opportunity to improve standards, so the question to ask when recruiting is: “Can this person help us achieve the strategic objectives of the department or the business?”.  That means taking the long (and possibly the more expensive) view on hiring the right people and that is by far the best way.

Good enough is not good enough.  Never hire the second choice on your list if the first choice turns you down.  You didn’t choose them the first time so why choose them the second time?  Better to start the process all over again and find the best person for the position.

Even better, just hire exceptional people and fit the positions around them.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
To contact us, email ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk
Twitter: @ivanjgoldberg


Mike Carter said...

An excellent post Ivan. I love the idea that as a people based company the function of the role takes second place. However if you have processes that need to be completed then it might be necessary to recruit people that fulfill a function. In this instance it is also possible that you 2nd place candidate may be more the capable of being excellent in the role, surely thats relative to the two candidates. However you can never condone 'making do' with a candidate.

Lisa Moore said...

Now that I think about it, hiring exceptional people is a good investment. But isn't considering 2nd place candidates also a good idea? I always believe that giving someone a chance to prove his potential is a good investment for companies.