Hire the Right People
Jan 24, 2019
Your ability to hire the right people to help you get the job done will determine your success as much as any other factor. If you cannot hire good people with the right skills, knowledge, and temperament to assist you, you will end up having to do much of the work yourself. Managers who cannot multiply themselves through other people can never be promoted to positions of higher responsibility.
In his bestselling book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains that there are activities that require “fast thinking,” quick, impulsive, instinctive, and intuitive reasoning, and about which you can make fast decisions, like changing lanes in traffic.
On the other hand, there are other activities that require “slow thinking.” They require that you slow down, gather information, reflect carefully, and decide slowly. This is why Peter Drucker said, “Fast people decisions are invariably wrong people decisions.”
Think on Paper
To hire the right person, begin by thinking on paper. Write out a description of the perfect person for this particular position. Put down every characteristic, quality, experience, skill, or talent that the ideal candidate would have, exactly as if you were sending an order to a factory for a custom-made product.
Next, write a description of the job (or jobs) that you want this person to do. Describe the expected results or outcomes of the job, and make them measurable. Describe the proven talents and skills that the person will need to have to achieve those results. Then describe the temperament and personality of the ideal person that you would want to hire.
Be perfectly selfish when you engage in this process. Resolve that you are only going to hire somebody that you like and respect and whose company you enjoy. “Likability” is a critical factor in all human relationships, and you should set it as one of your standards for hiring people.
The SWAN Formula
The four letters of the SWAN formula give you a recipe that you can follow for selecting the best people:
S stands for “smart.” Look for smart people, intelligent people, curious people, people who seem to be positive, bright, and interested in both you and your work.
W stands for “works hard.” Remember most people are lazy and just looking for a place where they can be lazy on someone else’s payroll. You are looking for people who have a reputation for hard, hard work.
During the interview, there’s a good way to test for how hard a person is likely to work. Say, “Occasionally, we have to work evenings and weekends to complete important jobs for our customers. How would you feel about that?”
The best candidates will immediately say, “If I get this job, I will do what it takes to be successful.” If the candidate hems and haws and starts talking about needing time off for his personal or social life, that is all you need to know. If hired, this person will not be particularly productive. This person will want to continue vacation on your payroll.
A stands for “ambitious.” The very best employees are those who see your job offer as a springboard to even better things for them in the future. They are convinced that accepting your job offer and doing an excellent job for you will open doors for them that will help them in their career.
N stands for “nice.” Always hire nice people. Always hire people that you personally enjoy. It should not be the only criterion for making a decision, but it ranks up there as very important. It turns out that nice people get along better with others, perform better as part of a team, are more cheerful when there are ups and downs in the business, and are more of a pleasure to have around than people who are negative or doubtful.
The Rule of Three
The Rule of Three is a formula that I have developed over the years. Many senior executives say that it literally revolutionizes the hiring process in their business. It also increases the likelihood that you will make the right choice in about 90% of hires.
1. Interview at least three candidates for any job, and perhaps more. By interviewing three candidates, you get an opportunity to contrast and compare potential hires. Never hire the first and only person that you interview. Cast a wide net and interview a variety of people for the job so that you can see what is available in the talent pool.
2. Interview the candidate that you like three different times. The scheduled interviews may be tomorrow or next week, or three days in a row. Go slowly. Take your time. A person who looks great in the first interview may look average in the second interview and terrible in the third interview. This happens with incredible regularity.
3. Interview the candidate you like in three different places. The first interview can be in your office, the second interview can be down the hall in a meeting room, and the third interview can be across the street in a coffee shop. As you move people to different environments, they reveal different aspects of their personality that you did not see in your office. Remember that your job candidates will never look as good as they did the first time that you interview them. In the second and third interviews, or in the second and third locations, the initially appealing candidate can start to look worse and worse. So reflect carefully and decide slowly (this is what we mean by “slow thinking”).
Three Other People
The fourth application of this hiring formula is to have the candidate interviewed by at least three other people. Never rely on your own judgment in selecting a person to work for your company. Always invite the involvement and opinions of other people before you make a decision.
I once interviewed an individual for a position as an executive in my company. I was quite impressed and on the verge of hiring him when I remembered my own rule. So I took him around the office and had him speak to each of the key players on my team, one at a time, so they could ask him questions and form their own judgments.
At the end of the day, they came to me as a group and told me that I absolutely must not hire this person. He was totally inappropriate for our company. He had flaws and weaknesses that I had been unable to detect, but that they had observed in their conversations with him. I dropped the consideration of the candidate immediately.
The very best executives in every industry have developed a reputation, over time, of selecting the very best people to work with and for them. This is an essential part of your becoming an excellent manager and fulfilling your potential in your industry.
The key is to go slow. There is too much at stake.
© 2014 Brian Tracy. All rights reserved. Excerpt from Management (The Brian Tracy Success Library). Used with permission of the publisher, AMACOM, a division of American Management Association.
Here’s an AMA seminar that will help you hire the right employees:
Recruiting, Interviewing and Selecting Employees
In addition, if you are a Brian Tracy fan, consider AMA's new LXL Seminar developed in collaboration with Brian Tracy: Unlimited Sales Success: Mastering the New Realities of Selling