Hiring "A" Players or Settling for Mediocrity - Human Capitalist- Volume 12 - Issue 1

Hiring "A" Players or Settling for Mediocrity - Human Capitalist- Volume 12 - Issue 1

 Volume 4, Issue 1  Intelligence for the consumer goods, life science and retail industries
The Human Capitalist
 “A” player human capital leadership
by Hunt Executive Search
                               For more nearly a decade, the Human Capitalist has been a value added service to encourage

   our employer and candidate clients in their Personal & Professional Development

 Featured Article

Hiring "A" Players or Settling for Mediocrity

Many people would say that the most crucial activity of any management or leadership team is setting up the process of strategic path finding. While that is a mission critical activity, equally as critical is recruiting, selecting and positioning people in the organization.
A major problem for most organizations is the speed of change economically and in the marketplace creates the need for people immediately, with problems so urgent they go into crisis hiring practices. People need to realize, that which you desire most earnestly, you believe most easily. After you hire in the typical crisis mode, downstream you often have to live with real disasters born from mis-hires.
Instead, you should practice strategic hiring, ensuring you have carefully thought through the criteria, communicated them and paid the price to look in-depth at the track record of different people. Pay the price to really build rapport and a relationship with possible candidates to the point that they are authentic and transparent ,and so they have the time to decide whether their own vision, value and voice are in alignment with the strategic criteria of the their future work.
Renown author and teacher Stephen R. Covey likes to ask the question: "Starting with your earliest memory, what did you really like doing and did well?" then push that through grade school, junior high, high school, university and work assignments afterward until you start to see a real pattern of where people's real talents and strengths are. You'll also see patterns of dependency, independency or interdependency, and you'll see a pattern in working with things, people or simply ideas. You must also be willing to share the strategically developed criteria of the roles you expect people to play in order to assure win/win hiring decisions.
We recommend the Chronological In-Depth Structured (CIDS: pronounced Sid's) interview for every hire. This is virtually the same interview used so successfully by Dr. Brad Smart's Topgrading process made popular by Jack Welch and GE's leadership selection and development process. We have developed a Performance Topgrading Interview that we use to assess executive talent that combines the CIDS and behavioral questions designed to more accurately assess competencies. On average we spend more than three hours conducting these interviews with each short list candidate for our projects. Add an additional hour or two conducting reference interviews and you will quickly come to the conclusion that's 15 to 20 hours of real time interviews of just finalist candidates, not including screening interviews of the many that did not make the grade.
This is the price managers must be willing to pay to assure a mis-hire does not occur. It should be a goal that every direct report of an executive be an "A" player. By definition, an "A" player is a person that is in the top 20 percent amongst their peer group of potential source candidates. There are other factors, but this is the first level definition of an "A" player. Research shows that mis-hires occur 85% of the time at the executive rank and people only get it right 15% of the time. The lost opportunity cost of these mis-hires is estimated at least 10X to 15X the executives' compensation. Please see our Cost of Executive Mis-Hire article for additional data and calculation details.
The bottom line is most executives are unwilling to pay the price to right this wrong with the excuse that there is not enough time to do the right thing. If a hiring executive can't invest the time to become a skilled interviewer and hire only "A" players, the corporation should consider that executive less than "A" player and ought to be deploying that person to an individual contributor role where they can be more successful.
Surprisingly, few Human Resource organizations have these skills or practices in place. While human capital is Human Resources' primary responsibility, recruiting talent into the organization is often reported as their least favorite part of the job. Even organizations with dedicated Talent Acquisition or Recruiting departments fall very short in this skill department. Filling requisitions becomes a necessary evil and a thankless task in many HR organizations. While it's not often spoken, many organization are satisfied simply to fill the empty seat with a warm body to get the hiring manager off their back. The function is sadly underappreciated by most organizations and their leaders. Fortunately, some organizations go beyond lip service and truly see their human capital as their biggest asset vs. the typical expense on the balance sheet.
Muddling along in mediocrity is keeping "B" and "C" players in their current roles. At the very least it's irresponsible, and at best a dereliction of duty to not do everything in your power to fill every position internally or externally with an "A" player. Most organizations cultures and management philosophies   remain dysfunctional today because they have failed to let go of the industrial age management practices. The knowledge worker age is here and many believe were already in the process of morphing to what some call the wisdom worker age. Sooner than later the transparency will make any incompetence visible to all.
We all know the best executives surround themselves with the best people who possess skills and competencies that make their individual weaknesses irrelevant. For those that have not taken the time to develop their recruiting, selection and modern management skills, it's certainly not too late. Irrespective of whether your organization proactively coaches and teaches these skills, there is no doubt your Human Resource department possesses many competencies and would likely receive your interest, inquiry and request for some help with open arms. We recommend all leaders and managers make developing these skills the highest priority. As the knowledge worker age morphs into the wisdom worker age that is already upon us, these skills will be by far your most important ones for you to continue to develop.
If you're interested in receiving a copy of the material we use to train our recruiting staff and many of our clients on our Performance Topgrading process that includes our In-Depth Interview question sets, an overview of our 50 competency model and scorecards, and an outline for reference interviews, please contact your consultant or e-mail me directly at joehunt@huntsearch.com for a complimentary copy with an instruction guide on how to get started.

About Hunt Executive Search, Inc.

Hunt Executive Search is the preeminent supplier of "A" player human capital to the Consumer Goods, Specialty Chemical, Life Science, Packaging and Professional Service industries.
Through retained executive search services for these clients we place executives in CXO, General Management, and EVP/SVP/VP functional leadership in Sales, Marketing, Product Supply, Manufacturing, R&D, Finance and Human Resources.
With 70 Offices in 30 Countries Americas EMEA Asia Pacific and our affiliation with IRC Global Executive Search Partners, we stand ready to serve our clients in virtually any global market with consistent world class levels of service and results.


"Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason."

Ayn Rand,
Author, Philosopher, Founder of Objectivism

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This Executive Edge was created by

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Lead Editor:  J.B. Hunt

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