On The Importance of Hiring the Right People

5 minute read

It can never be underscored enough how important it is to get the right people for your organization and keep them there. This is an ongoing challenge that a lot of companies face regardless of industry. A lot are stuggling with it and a lot got burnt by it. A lot has already spoken and written about it but just the same, here’re a few insights that can get you started.

  1. Ensure that they mesh well with your culture. In some companies, the new hires were practically instrumental in taking the place apart. The culture that was once instrumental in churning out cool and relevant products is now struggling under the weight of prison-like morale. If you’re to hire, hire people who can introduce great change, not the opposite. This is easier said than done. People can fake resumes and be great at interviews. So your best bet is to hire within your network. If your trusted peers are willing to bet their reputation on a candidate whose work they have first hand experience on, go for it.

  2. Hire the right ones, the crazy ones. Be patient in finding them as getting the wrong ones will definitely prove more costly in the future. Some people are trainable but it’s still better to get those that already have the right maturity, civility, and determination to solve problems. At the least, get people who are willing to change, those who are willing to adapt as necessary. Process means nothing when you have the wrong people who simply refuse to budge. Steve Jobs, in his bio by Walter Isaacson, said, “A-plus Players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B work.” So do your people a favor and don’t put in B Players into the mix. B Players can be such energy saps.

  3. It’s also important to find out how curious your candidates are. Never ever settle for mediocrity. A curious, passionate, and resourceful person will bend space and time wholeheartedly, and work outside their silos to give you a solution. They’re the ones who won’t settle for the most convenient solution but who will look for the most elegant one. Everyone else will just give you a convenient excuse. Eric Villarama of IDEO emphasized how a problem-solving mindset truly delights clients, may the be internal or external ones.

  4. Look for people who can think on their own. IDEO’s David Kelly is even known to hire those who’d disagree with him. Apple’s Steve Jobs was also known to have more respect to those who can stand up to him and defend their ideas. On the other hand, you also want someone with the humility to admit that sometimes, his/her idea can suck, civilly.

  5. You have to be clear about your company’s objectives and values. If the candidate is as excited as you are and believes in what you believe in. A high salary does not always guarantee loyalty, but if you have the same set of values and are working towards the same big goal, this person will stick it out with you even when things are not turning out well. Do you or your company know what you’re doing this for in the first place? If not, how could you expect others to be as giddy as you are? Read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why and know how leaders like Apple does it.

Of course, how you identify these people from the rest is another challenge so I hope you make good use of your probationary period. Set expectations well and review their performance frequently. Some people will adapt and make up. Some will really shine. Sadly, some will always turn out lacking. For your sanity and your company’s future, get rid of the slackers right away, while quickly optimizing your key talents after you get them on board and.. make sure you keep them on board.

  1. Ensure that they’re being paid enough that they wouldn’t have to worry about money and how it needs to support their families. You don’t have to pay people twice or thrice as much as the other company. But sometimes, you need to do an introspection and stop pretending your salary structure is even at par with the market. If people believe in your cause, they’d stay as long as they can. But if their staying actually puts them in more debt, you need to wake up.

  2. Honor your promises or at least be transparent that things may go on different directions beyond your control. Your credibility will play a good role in establishing or maintaining that trust. When an employee loses his/her trust in you. That’s already a crack that could widen anytime. If you know you can’t bet your own job or reputation for something, say it so. Never do a bait-and-switch, else you’ll be known as that two-faced double-standard invertebrate.

  3. Keep them inspired. Keep them motivated. They work hard for you. The least you can do is make things a little bit more fun. If you need to create a crisis (controlled I hope), do it. That will keep bright minds challenged.

  4. If there’s one thing you need not do, it’s to get in their way. Let them fly. As Henry Tenedero (Center for Learning & Teaching Styles) said, each of us has our own idiosyncracies in the way we learn and do things. The organization has to make an effort in knowing these and making room for people to shine, their way. Not everyone thrives on cubicles, but I know some who’d rather be there instead of their own room. Some need bright lights, while some would rather work in the dark, etc. Forcing one approach for the rest without really understanding what works best for each individual will cost you more than you think.

Now, what if you’re already stuck with the wrong people? If you could legally fire them, do it already. The longer they’re there the more damage it can cause to an already fragile organization. It’s in everyone’s best interest to protect and nurture the crazy ones. It’s even in your best interest as how your career fares would depend greatly on how they perform.

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