Your Hiring Goal: To Be the Dumbest One in the Room
By: Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success
As Publisher of SUCCESS magazine, I get the opportunity to meet and interview many of today's top business leaders.
When asked what they attribute the success of their business to, invariably, they will say it is hiring the great people they have surrounded themselves with. This is not some self-effacing answer. Great leaders know that businesses are nothing but a group of people hired to accomplish a mission.
The better the people, the better chance you have of accomplishing the mission. No CEO climbs to the top of the mountain alone -- it requires a great team and great team management.
Many of these extraordinary achievers will readily confess that most of their team is smarter, more talented and more skilled than they are. In fact, they will tell you that is always their objective.
Recruiting and Hiring the Best
The CEO of a billion-dollar company told me recently that it is his ardent goal is to always "be the dumbest guy in the room." And quite candidly, he's not that smart, but he is brilliant at recruiting and retaining great people, people much smarter than he is -- and he owns the majority of the stock. Sounds pretty darn smart to me!
He said, "If I know more than someone at the table, number one, we are in trouble, number two, I have the wrong people at the table. My job is to get them to the table and keep them at the table. Then it is their job to accomplish the mission."
The very important key point I am passing on here is this: it is not your intelligence, talent or experience that makes the difference. It comes down to a single skill -- your ability to recruit, retain employees and empower great people around you. Thus, the key skill you want to build, develop and hone is your recruiting skill.
So then, when recruiting and hiring great people, who are you looking for? If you don't know exactly who you are looking for, you will never find the right person, because you don't even know what they look like and invariably you will end up with whoever happens to show up and compliments your shoes.
When I am looking to recruit someone, the first thing I do is write a detailed job description. This exercise gets you really clear and specific about what you need and how success in that position will be defined. It also becomes a manifesto or roadmap for the person once they are brought on to the team. Once the mission is defined, I write out the key attributes needed to achieve that mission.
When I interviewed Harry Joiner, one of the most successful professional executive recruiters in the country today, he said we should approach recruiting like dating. Ask yourself questions to determine what your ideal match looks like. Know the key initiatives for your new team member before you begin your search, so you know how to qualify your ideal match.
Four key questions to identify your ideal match:
1. What's the role?
2. How will success be measured?
3. What attributes are needed to succeed?
4. What attributes are needed to gel with the rest of team and culture?
Knowing how to interview and select the right people as part of a streamlined hiring process can be perplexing, particularly if you are not exactly sure what you should be looking for. It all comes down to just three things to make quality hiring decisions -- the right attitude, a culture fit, and the desire to learn.
Hire for attitude Attitude trumps education, experience, awards and previous titles.
I learned this key lesson from the head of Marriott International while we were having lunch. I was complimenting him on how friendly his staff was and asked his secret. He said, "We don't train our people to be friendly; we just hire friendly people." That's profound, really. It's much easier to go recruit positive-minded, hard-working, caring servant-leaders than it is to train someone to be so.
So what type of attitude do you want in your organization? Do you want hard working, loyal or creative? A counter-intuitive thinker? Friendly and empathic?
First and foremost, decide on the attitude you want and then hire for it. It is supremely more efficient to recruit people who already possess the key attributes you are looking for, than to believe you can train people on how to be successful for your business.
Find a match for your culture. Identify your company culture first. Is the culture of your business eccentric? Entrepreneurial? Goofy and playful? Serious and fast-paced?
Good people can be a bad choice if placed in the wrong environment. Does the person you are interviewing share the values of your business? List the mindset, attributes, and attitudes needed to fit culturally on the team and succeed in your business. It's critically important.
Hire for an appetite to learn. A lot of people say hire from experience. Nothing I've ever done and been successful at is something I have done before. Someone who is an avid learner will excel. People with a hunger for learning are coachable. Teachability is a mindset.
Look for people who listen more than they talk. Look for people with a healthy dose of humility. Humility doesn't mean a lack of self-confidence; it means people who aren't so enthralled with their own ideas that they are unable to consider the ideas and thoughts of others. Look for people with curiosity. Those who are teachable are achievement-oriented.
Organizations with the best people win. The job of the leader is to go get the best people you possible can. The key skill you want to build, develop and hone is your recruiting skill. Act like the success of your business depends on it -- because it does.
Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, has been a leader in the personal development industry for sixteen years, having led two personal development-based television networks, producing and launching more than a thousand television shows, live events, products, and programs with many of the world's top experts.