July 9, 2016 Leave a comment
Attracting, developing and retaining the best people across functions and teams should always be a leader’s top priority. Having the best people is a company’s only durable competitive advantage. While strategy, product, etc. can be copied, great people cannot. Companies short-change themselves when they do not commit to only hiring great people. Why? Average people deliver average results while great people deliver great results. When hiring people, leaders should never settle for good enough, they must always strive for greatness.
Great people are often described as A-players. A-players deliver strong performance instantly; B-players deliver solid performance within 3-6 months; and C-players never deliver. An A-player is someone who is in the top 10% of talent available for a specific role at a specific level of compensation. They are people who can do a specific role better than you and you trust them to do it. According to Eric Herrenkohl, President of Herrenkohl Consulting, while B-players can do the fundamentals of a specific role, A-players can do the fundamentals “plus some.” The plus some is key.
When hiring for a specific position, leaders must create an A-player profile setting forth both the fundamentals of the role, as well as its plus some requirements. The A-player profile should consist of the following: 1) the job description (what the role consists of), 2) the competencies of the job (what is needed to be successful in the role) and 3) accountabilities of the job (how the role will be measured). Candidates must then be compared to the profile. Candidates that meet 90% of the profile are not qualified. Candidates must meet the profile 100%+.
Interview for Experience
When interviewing candidates, review their resume from the earliest to the most recent position listed. For each role, spend the majority of the time talking to them about their experience by asking two questions: 1) What did you do and 2) What results did you achieve? People tend to speak in generalities about things they did not do and in specifics what they did do. Ask second- and third-level questions to gain more specifics if needed. Answers about experience provide key insight into a candidate professionally, as well as their character and integrity.
Elon Musk, a man who has built three billion dollar businesses – PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, uses a similar technique related to specifics when interviewing candidates. Musk asks candidates about a complex problem that they have worked on and how they solved it. If the person was actually the one who solved it, they will be able to answer questions about it on multiple levels. If they cannot, you can assume that they are not being entirely truthful. According to Musk, anyone who struggles to solve a difficult problem never forgets the experience.
Another tactic to obtain supplemental information and turbo-charge the interview process is a live-fire exercise. Live-fire exercises should be used on the top two to three candidates for a role. Examples of live-fire exercises can include: 1) Giving the candidate 30-minutes to create a PowerPoint presentation on your product to see how they do under pressure or 2) Having the candidate present to you on their current company and product. If they cannot sell you what they have been selling, how are they going to be able to sell your product?
Removing Bias with Scorecarding
In addition to the A-player profile, an interview scorecard should also be used during the process. The interview scorecard should be filled out by each interviewer where the requirements of the A-player profile are assigned points. Results should not be shared to prohibit people involved in the interview loop from being influenced by each other. Results should then be compiled by the hiring manager at the end of the process for objective comparison. Objective and subjective factors can then be weighed by the group during the debrief.
To raise the bar and take companies to the next level, leaders must commit to being ruthless about building organizations filled with A-players. They must be intentional about continually evaluating and upgrading talent. The goal is an A-player in every role, not a bell curve. When companies grow, leaders often end up putting up with a few B-players. The problem is B-players hire C-players to feel superior. When companies start hiring B-players and below, they end up with what Steve Jobs called a “bozo explosion.” Committing to the A-player profile will prevent it.
All contents copyright © 2016, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.