By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

In good times and bad, hiring top talent is the one thing that will have the biggest impact on the future growth of your practice.  Knowing that – and practicing it – are often two different things, however.

In their recent Wall Street Journal best-seller, “Who: The A Method for Hiring”, authors Geoff Smart and Randy Street lay out a structured approach to hiring that is designed to help you get the A Players you want for your team.

Everyone talks about wanting to hire A Players.  Smart and Street, however, focus carefully on the fact that an A Player is not just a superstar, but the right superstar: a talented person who can do the job while fitting into the culture of your company.  For example, even the best and most highly talented analyst might be a C Player if what you need is someone who can also sell work.  Likewise, even the best salesperson might be a C Player if what you need is someone who can manage the team that produces the report.

This distinction drives the advice that Street and Smart offer, beginning with their thoughts on developing the “scorecard” that is the blueprint for your success.  The “scorecard” describes the job’s mission, outcomes and competencies, and provides a clear linkage between the people you hire and your strategy.

With the scorecard in place, you can undertake sourcing, or generating a flow of A Players.  In addition to the standard approaches involving recruiters and researchers, the authors talk about ways to see referrals from employees and other professionals and personal networks, “deputizing” friends of the firm by offering a “bounty” for referrals.

Selecting, or interviewing, candidates can too easily be a seat-of-the-pants effort that relies too much on what the authors refer to as “voodoo hiring methods”.  Without making it clear what they are referring to, Smart and Street recommend a model that can be used for hiring at all functional levels in a BV firm.  Practice leaders may find the process a little cumbersome for hiring at lower levels, but the value of its thoroughness cannot be argued.

In our experience, BV employers tend to make one of two mistakes when it comes to getting the candidate to say yes.  Either they trip over their own shoelaces while overselling the job, or they quickly make the decision that this is the person to hire and then move on, just as quickly, to other priorities, forgetting that the candidate is still in the due diligence stage.

In their chapter on selling the candidate on the position, the authors cover territory which is usually ignored in other books on employee selection and which, in the richness of its detail, is worth buying the book for.  They discuss ways to sell the elements of fit, family, freedom, fortune and fun.

“Who: The A Method for Hiring” is a relatively quick read.  The authors sprinkle anecdotes throughout.  Though they can sometimes seem like name-dropping, and usually deal with hiring of C-level executives, they are effective at making the point the authors want to make.

“Who: The A Method for Hiring” is published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., and is available through most online booksellers.

John Borrowman