Hiring: It’s Better to Call off the Wedding

Blog Post A Culture that Fuels Our Strategy

Every executive and manager has hiring stories: those people we’re proud of who have gone on to excel and those hires that haunt us with a ‘what were we thinking?’ Though some say, it’s a crapshoot, seasoned professionals at hiring understand that it’s not as bad as a roll of the dice. True, how someone performs over time as a colleague and as a contributor cannot be known until it happens. There are, though, some key things to focus on when hiring.

Hire Honestly. A Major League ballplayer once told me this: “Playing professional baseball is awesome. The part nobody knows about is the hours and hours and hours of downtime where you just sit. You get bored as hell.” The selling points of your organization are key to share, but being honest about the realities of what it takes to work there is too. A former Just Do It person told me, “If you don’t like working complex matrix to drive consensus, then this isn’t the place for you.” Tell people about the long hours, lack of structures, or travel requirements now vs. later.

Hire for Culture. If you don’t fit, you ain’t legit. Weak couplet aside, people who do not fit your culture likely will not make it. Most cultures have room for a recalcitrant or for rabble-rousers…up to a point. If you hire someone who doesn’t fit the mold, that’s fine but without cover for them to regularly color outside the lines, people will get fed up over time or the person won’t be a success and/or advance. That isn’t a recipe for success.

Hire for Fit. Fit is usually more than experience or resume. Just as not every Ivy League graduate is star-studded nor every person who has played quarterback for the Denver Broncos is Hall of Fame worthy, simply having had a job or had an experience does not mean they are a match for your organization. Sometimes the candidate who is clearly the smartest guy in the room doesn’t understand smarts aren’t the coin of the realm. If your organization values grit, look for it. If coworkers expect selfless collaboration, self-aggrandizing stars will not shine in your company.

Hire Soberly. Enthusiasm and first-impressions are clearly important. Keep clear on hiring from the facts. Look for data versus gut or intuition to drive your “choice-fulness”. Set up a ranking system on various key aspects that you deem important and then see where the person ranks. You might like someone’s spunk, but if their writing or presentation skills or general professionalism do not match the standard, stay clear-eyed.

Hire Judiciously. Just like you don’t jump into a big purchase or a marriage without thorough vetting, time together, and consideration, do not be too quick to hire. Getting ‘someone’ on board as fast as possible will likely get you someone on board, but not the right person. People are a company’s biggest expenses, and for many companies a large part of the brand. As mentioned earlier, it’s far better to call off the wedding than to go through the divorce.

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