Which is Better: Making Smart Hires or Hiring Smart People?


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Expert Perspective by Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board

The Editorial Board enjoyed reading Roland Smith’s article for the Wall Street Journal (Five Rules for Making Smart Hires).    His list of “five ways to make smart hires and avoid costly mistakes” is spot on and addresses those areas that, although perhaps it seems obvious, are often overlooked in the selection and on boarding processes. 

We’d like to add a “Grahall spin” to these topics.  The best way to make smart  and to hire smart people is first to do a thorough “self reflection”.  That is to really understand the organization and articulate this understanding. 

1) BEFORE you start your search, fully understand the business plan and strategic goals for the future associated with this position, and clearly describe the position and the qualities of the person best suited to fill it.  (Smith’s #1).  Are you looking to capture market share, turnaround a troubled business, establish and gain credibility for a start-up product?  Each of these – and the myriad of other conditions – will have a different time frame and different expectation for successful results. Make sure that the “position and person” description reflects the real business goals.    

2) Carefully analyze the culture and principles of the business unit where the new hire will be placed and any mores, customs and requirements of geography so you can determine the right “fit” (Smith’s #2).   Corporate culture is more than its vision, mission and values.  It is the day to day expression of those standards and that is the environment your newly hired employee will experience.  

3) Thoroughly understand each potential candidate (Smith’s #3).  Evaluate the candidate pool.  Are they all top performers?  If so, he or she could add value far beyond any incremental compensation they demand.   Studies have shown that the 90th percentile performers can produce four times that of the 50th percentile performer for just 40% more compensation.  That is a formula that any business person can embrace. 

4) Get “buy in” for the candidate from peers, subordinates, supervisors, etc.  (Smith’s #4) Almost nothing can derail and demoralize a new hire faster than lack of support and cooperation.  

5) Provide the foundation to guarantee success.  (Smith’s #5).  “Failure to launch” can derail a new hire faster than lack of cooperation (also, see #4 above).  Make sure that on-boarding, orientation, mentoring, and resources for our new employee are delivered seamlessly and successfully. 

 The only thing that counts over time is performance.  You will be much better assured that your hires have the capability of meeting performance goals if you and they understand the job coming in, are comfortable in the culture, are top performers, supported by the organization and  well supplied with the information and material needed for success.

Contact Joe Davidson at joe.davidson@grahall.com

Contact Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board at edie.kginston@grahall.com

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