As businessmen are R.H. Grant once said:
When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.
So hiring people smarter than you are is actually smart. In most organizations managers are specialists, and leaders are generalist. Let me give you a hospital example. I am sure that the chief of surgery is not necessarily the best surgeon in the hospital or the best specialist however he or she may be the best leader. By the same token, I'm sure Mary Kay never actually manufactured make-up or a clinically tested it in a laboratory, but she led a great organization for years. What we have to realize is that the work is not done by the leader, the work is done by the team. So here is the point, if we hire the best team we get the best results.
One area that the leaders need to overcome is their own sense of ego or even arrogance. This prevents them from thinking about the possibility of hiring someone who is smarter than they are in their specific area of expertise. That is the wrong way to think about it. If you're hiring someone for finance, you may not be the ultimate expert in finance yourself. So the goal is to find the “best of the best” in the world of finance. The fact is that when a leader is surrounded by a smart team then the leader looks smarter by reflection.
Tips for hiring smarter
Here are eight tips for ensuring that you hire and keep the smartest and the best:
1. Make it your goal to find the best:
I see leaders in many industries who settle for a candidate who seems OK, but is not the best of the best. Don't settle! If you do that, you will pay for it later. Be the tortoise not the hare. Take your time, be patient and make sure that you're hiring the best of the best and when you do you will get great results.
2. Always be looking for new talent:
As you attend industry conferences meetings and network, always be on the lookout for new talent. Sometimes when we least expect it, we come across the talent we will someday want to be part of the team. Talk to them and get to know them professionally and even ask them to send you a resume, and put it in your file of future talent. Keep in touch with this talent on a regular basis and one day when you are ready to make a move you now have a very strong “best of the best” candidate.
3. Become an interviewing artist:
Really strive to become a master interviewer. This is a skill and not a science. Identify people in your organization who are known as being great interviewers and ask them if you could sit in on one of their interviews. Be the proverbial fly on wall and observe their techniques and approaches. I learned all of my best interviewing skills from a gentleman named Filemon Lopez (a former boss). He taught me the subtleties of effective interviewing approaches and techniques. If internal training on effective interviewing is available, take advantage of it. Secondly, read and study books and online courses on effective interviewing; you will find you will learn a lot.
4. Have multiple interviews with multiple people:
I have found that interviews that incorporate multiple people and the candidate coming back for several interviews are much more effective. Why does this work so well? The reason that this is so effective is each time the candidate comes back for an interview they become more relaxed and comfortable. This allows you to get beyond the techniques that they've learned in their interviewing books and classes and to try to get to the real person beyond the techniques. Additionally, if multiple people are interviewing the candidate there may be areas identified by one person that was not identified by another. The reason for this is simple; some people feel comfortable with one interviewer and not another. It really is about chemistry between two people.
I once had a very strong candidate who I interviewed two times and was practically ready to make them a job offer. That is when it got a very interesting. I took the candidate to lunch for a third interview, and over lunch she revealed some ethical problems that she had in her last job, which clearly told me that she was not appropriate for our team. I passionately believe that this would not have been revealed if we had only done two interviews, and she had not been interviewed by multiple people. By the way, you'll notice the classic technique mentioned above; the infamous lunch technique (which works like a charm). If you want to find out more about the real person, get them to go to dinner, breakfast or lunch and “break bread.” The candidate will disappear, and a real person will emerge.
5. Look for hidden assets:
I find often in corporations and organizations there is hidden talent waiting to emerge, just waiting to be discovered. I was once a Vice President of Training and Development for a large company. I received a resume from an internal candidate who wanted to fill the position of trainer. I called the Human Resources Department and asked them why they sent me her resume. They patiently explained that even though this candidate worked in the Accounts Payable Department, she had developed and designed a significant amount of training on her own to train Accounts Payable people around the country. “Besides” the H.R. person said, “You have to interview her. She has passion!” Of course we interviewed her, and after several interviews and a live training audition, she was hired as a trainer. So we discovered a talented trainer who is buried in another department in the organization; a truly a hidden asset. Take the time to look around your organization for talented people who are waiting for an opportunity to be recognized and to apply their talents. Also look within your own team. Are there people on your team, that with the given proper development and the desire and passion could move into a new role or responsibility?
6. Hire for diversity:
I find that the great leaders are always looking for diversity. Yes I know it's the right thing to do and it adds greatly to the company's PR reputation. The fact that they are sensitive to and addressing diversity issues in terms of hiring has great value. But I think there's a more important reason; the real reason why you should hire for diversity. You should hire for diversity to find people who think differently. My definition of hiring for diversity means you get people on your team who are completely different than you. You get diversity in race, creed, color, religion geography and culture. The advantage of having this kind of diversity on your team is that each person brings a unique perspective to the work. That way you get a much broader perspective of opinions. So hire people who are completely different than you, in fact the opposite of your own image- hire people radically crazily different than you!
7. Don't hire in your own image:
This sounds like a repeat of the one above, but it certainly is not. What I'm talking about here is hiring people who have your same personality style or very similar ways of thinking. For example, I noticed that leaders who are a dominant style often hire other dominant people in terms of behavioral style. Each leader will hire people that match their own style. Make sure that your team doesn't reflect your image, but reflects a wide variety of styles.
8. Make sure new hires get orientation:
This is one of the most overlooked and abused areas in the hiring process. In most companies, orientation sounds something like this “Welcome to our team. I want you to follow Kwon around for awhile, and well, you'll get the hang of it." This is not to an orientation. In fact, it's an invitation to have employees learn the wrong habits from the wrong team members at the wrong time. The other mythology that I have issues with is that people think orientation is a one day or two- day class where people welcome them to the company and are given policies, procedures and training about the company itself. This is not orientation; it is a 1-2 day class.
Here is what I believe orientation should actually look like. Orientation should actually begin during the second and third interview where you layout what is expected of them before they start. So the actual orientation process of educating the employee as to what is expected and what is not expected, what is allowed and what is not allowed, does not begin after they are hired. It should actually begin in the interview process. The second aspect of orientation is I believe that every employee should have a specific developed eight week orientation process. Often when I say this in training, managers get very nervous because they are imagining an employee sitting in training for eight weeks ,which is a crazy waste of time. That is not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about is (beyond the official company orientation day) there should be a specific calendar created for each new team member. This calendar basically lays out what an employee should expect in the first eight weeks of employment. On the simple calendar, it basically lays out for them the activities that they will be doing each week. There are several compelling reasons why this should be done using this approach. First of all, if you hand a new associate an eight week calendar they will be very impressed that the organization has actually prepared for their arrival. This means that they count, they are important and they have value. Secondly, every associate has decided to take the job but it does not necessarily mean that they have decided to keep it. So in essence when new employee starts, it is up to you as the leader to provide an orientation process which allows them to get excited about the organization that they work for and still feel valued appreciated on Day one and Day 91. Don't let orientation be an accident; let it be a deliberate act that is designed to ramp someone up quickly.
So how smart are you? I bet you are smart enough to hire people smarter than you.