The most important decisions that business leaders make are not what decisions, but who decisions.


-          Jim Collins, Author of Good To Great



“Who is your number one problem. Not what. What refers to the strategies you choose, the products and services you sell, and the processes you use. Who refers to the people you put in place to make the what decisions. Who is running your sales force? Who is assembling your products? Who is developing your service deliverables? Who is occupying your corner office?”


Thus begins one of the best books I have read dealing with hiring great talent, hiring “A – players”. The book is Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. It was a NY Times best seller back in 2008 and received numerous awards. Smart and Street are cofounders of a successful consultancy firm, ghSMART, that has helped many Fortune 500 companies develop and implement the “A Method for Hiring.”


The book suggests and I wholeheartedly concur, that although most companies would certainly want to hire “A – players” for all of their positions, very few have a methodology in place that would allow them to do so. Most companies and in turn, those within the companies charged with hiring, practice something similar to voodoo. And unfortunately, sometimes voodoo works. But at such a high cost!


The “A Method for Hiring” consists of four parts, Scorecard, Source, Select and Sell.


-         The Scorecard is a document that describes exactly what you want a person to accomplish in a role. It is NOT a job description, but rather a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done. By defining A-type performance you have a better chance of filling the position with “A-players”.

-         Sourcing needs to be systematic and ongoing, not just when you have a position to fill. Developing a pipeline of “A-players” ensures you have high-quality candidates waiting when you need them.

-         Selecting talent involves a series of structured interviews (Screening, Topgrading, Focused, and Reference) that allow for the gathering of all relevant facts about a candidate so that an informed hiring decision can be made.

-         Selling the right way ensures you avoid the biggest pitfalls that cause the very people you want the most to take their talents elsewhere.


All of this takes time, training and top-down commitment or your chances of consistently hiring “A-players” will be what it currently is, slim to none.  If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you are still relying on Job Descriptions as your source of information, then you won’t be successful. If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you don’t start sourcing until the opening exists, you won’t be successful. If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you merely conduct one or two “voodoo” interviews, you won’t be successful. And if your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position but you fail to sell the candidate, his/her family, extended family and other influencers on the decision to join your company and fail to continue selling as long as they are your employee, then you won’t be successful.


So, could Horton the elephant hire a WHO? Certainly if he follows the “A Method for Hiring” and if he HEARS the WHO.


Thanks Dr. Seuss.

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