Hire Smart or Manage Tough – Sound (But Often Forgotten) Hiring Advice

“No management style can undo the damage of a poor hiring decision.”

Red Scott

In the quick read, Hire Smart or Manage Tough, Red Scott, the former Vice-Chairman of Pier One Imports and a grand-nephew of legendary tough guy, General George S. Patton, dispenses advice on why and how to hire top talent.

Why You Need to Hire the Top Talent

  • You can either hire smart or manage tough; you cannot do both
  • It is much easier to hire smart than to manage tough
    • Hire smart – do it once
    • Manage tough – do it every day
  • Focus on “game breaker” as different from “journeyman” employees
    • Depends on position
    • In his 6,000 employee company, there were 18 – 20 game-breaking positions
    • For game breakers, do not worry about salary; focus on how much they can make for you
      • You never pay the right guy enough
      • You always pay the wrong guy too much
        • And you do irreparable damage to the person mis-hired

Characteristics of Top Talent

  • Personal characteristics of a winner
    • He or she must give you more than they get
    • History of being lucky
    • Accepts responsibility for their personal results
    • Motivated by the act of achieving
      • Has to win at everything
    • Need to see closure (finish job)
    • Decisive when facts are in
    • Creative intelligence
    • Can see structure
    • Can organize data
  • Caution
    • Do not confuse bright people with judgment
  • Factors that determine future job performance
    • Formal education
    • Previous experience
    • Mental ability
    • Personality fit
    • Motivation and enthusiasm (“I will” instead of IQ)
    • Mentally tough
    • Ability to communicate (No leaders without followers)

How to Hire Top Talent

  • Formalize hiring process
    • Take six months to hire the right person
    • Put in writing how you are going to find the “game breaker”
  • Eight steps for hiring a “game breaker”
    • Use headhunter
      • Someone that has done that type of search recently and is only doing a few searches at a time
    • Reach for the moon when you are starting your search
    • Interview targeted group of candidates; each for 3 – 4 hours one on one
      • Listen (they should talk 80% of the time)
        • Verbs instead of noun
        • Where they are going instead of where they have been
        • Team instead of I
        • Realize that you are the enemy in terms of being objective because of your inherent subjective biases
      • Have a list of questions written out ahead of time; types of questions include:
        • What would your former employer / subordinate say about you?
        • What would they say you should do differently?
        • What are your qualities of a manager?
        • How do you recognize incompetence?
        • How do you recognize excellence?
        • How did you hire your last person?
        • What are your priorities?
    • Do professional test; testers and psychologists
      • Create a model / template to see how successful people in your company do on the test
      • Testing tells how smart they are, how well they use intellect, personal style, motivation, inner strength, management style
    • Have a third party (someone on the outside that you know and trust) interview the candidates
    • Do a second interview; characterize them and assign a value on different crucial characteristics
      • Get a person in a social event
    • Reference checking (do face to face if possible)
    • Need to make them an attractive but fair deal to get them turned on to come and join the company

Characteristics of That Top Talent You Just Hired (Reprise)

  • Let’s find out v. Nobody knows
  • After mistake, I was wrong v. It was not my fault
  • Credit good luck for winning v. Blaming bad luck for losing
  • Winner works harder and still has more time v. Too busy to do what is necessary
  • Commitment v. Promises
  • I am good but not as good as I ought to be v. I am not as bad as a lot of other people

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Leadership, Perform / Execution, Team / People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Hire Smart or Manage Tough – Sound (But Often Forgotten) Hiring Advice

  1. hrhardball says:

    Love it David ~ it even READS like something a Patton descendant would say! Bullet point, bullet point, bullet point. Simple, effective advice. Well done!

  2. Diane Geshwind says:

    Thanks, David, I needed that reminder!

  3. hh says:

    This is really good advice! Thanks for sharing!

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