In any organization, the #1 challenge is not about the right strategy, products or processes. It’s about finding and putting the right people in the right roles, so they can make the right decisions and deliver outcomes that matter. “WHO: The A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street presents a proven 4-step approach for hiring A Players in any level of your organization. In this WHO summary, we’ll explain how to solve your #1 problem. For the full details, examples and tips, do get a copy of the book, or get a detailed overview with our complete book summary bundle.
Understanding Your #1 Problem
Focus on Who, not What
Many leaders focus on the “Whats” in their organizations, e.g. the strategies, products and services, systems and processes. However, without the right people in the right place, whatever problems you fix will only resurface again. When you address the “Whos”, the Whats” will naturally fall in place.
Overcome the 4 Key Hiring Mistakes
Most traditional recruitment and interview techniques are ineffective because they don’t test if someone can really do a job well. After interviewing many CEOs, leaders and management experts, and then analysing the data in detail, ghSMART found 4 key mistakes that lead to hiring failures at all levels:
• Lack of clarity on what the job requires;
• Lack of good candidates;
• Inability to choose the right candidate; and
• Losing the selected candidates.
Ultimately, you want to hire A Players who fit with your company culture and can accomplish a specific job with high standards. ghSMART defines an A Player as someone who has at least a 90% chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10% of candidates could achieve. Now, let’s dive into how to find, identify and hire such A Players!
The A Method for Hiring: The 4-Part Approach
The A Method for Hiring is a simple, proven 4-step process to identify and hire A players at all levels of the organization.
You can only build a house with a blueprint. Likewise, you can only hire the right person with a scorecard. The scorecard is a job blueprint—it describes exactly what success in a role looks like, including the (i) mission (why the role exists), (ii) outcomes (what the person must deliver) and (iii) competencies (how the job should be done given the job requirements and company culture).
To get a breakdown of each of these components and tips on how to develop them, do get the book or our complete summary. Basically, you can’t develop great scorecards without first having clarity on your company’s strategy, culture and goals and how it translates into specific objectives and activities for each person in the organization.
Unfortunately most managers start hiring with only a vague idea of what’s required, or using a general/standard job description. A good scorecard creates alignment, lets the candidate know how exactly he/she will be evaluated, and can be used to monitor and evaluate performance after the person is hired. It should be updated/re-crafted each time you rehire, since job roles and requirements will change over time.
2. SOURCE: BUILDING A PIPELINE OF A PLAYERS
Most managers don’t plan in advance. When a position opens up, they pull out an old job description and rush to fill the vacancy. HR shortlists several candidates with the limited time and info, and the hire one of them using voodoo methods. Sourcing is about systematically looking for and identifying potential talents before you actually need the people.
The best way to find A Players is through referrals, not advertising. In our complete 14-page summary, we share more tips and insights on how to get referrals from (i) your personal and professional networks, (ii) your employees, and (iii) business network. We also touch on using external recruiters and/or researchers and the use of sourcing systems to build your talent pipeline.
3. SELECT: IDENTIFY A-PLAYERS USING 4 INTERVIEWS
Traditional interview techniques don’t predict job performance because they focus on how someone behaves during the interview rather than on their track record. You need a structured approach to gather info and evaluate candidates against the Scorecard. Specifically, you’re looking for A Players who have a history of delivering the desired outcomes, have competencies that fit the role and culture, and are passionate about the role.
The screening interview
Sift out the B and C Players quickly using a short phone-based interview. You can potentially weed out 80-90% of the candidates at this phase, thus saving yourselves lots of unnecessary time and energy later on.
The Topgrading Interview
This interview covers the candidate’s career in a chronological order, using 5 questions to draw out specific facts and stories about each career phase. By the end of 3-5 hours, you’ll have a much clearer assessment of the candidate.
The focused interview
This interview takes about 45-60 minutes, and the goal is to dig deeper for info on specific outcomes or competencies in the scorecard.
The reference interview
You’re now ready to test what you learned about the candidate through reference checks. Never skip this step.
Only move someone to the next phase of the interview if you’re truly excited about them and convinced that they could be the ideal candidate. After the 4 interviews, complete the scorecards and give each candidate an overall grade of A, B, or C. Only hire A-graders. If you have no A-graders, keep sourcing; if you have multiple A-graders then hire the best.
4. SELL: SECURE THE CANDIDATE
Your job is not done until the candidate is delivering results as your employee. To get them through the door, you must sell to them by sincerely appealing to the 5Fs that people care about: Fit, Family, Freedom, Fortune, and Fun. And, in reality, you’ll have to sell throughout the recruitment process, not just at the end. Specifically, you must sell across 5 phases of the hiring process: during sourcing, during interviews, while waiting for the candidate to accept your offer, after the offer has been accepted, and during the new hire’s first 100 days on the job. You can lose the person at any point in this process. Listen for concerns regarding the 5Fs and address them immediately. Do your best to maximize your A Player’s chances of success.
IMPLEMENTING THE A METHOD FOR HIRING
Hiring A Players takes deliberate effort, hard work and persistence. However, the results are worth it, since the right talents will influence/shape your company culture/direction and define your long-term success. Eventually, your goal should be to build an A-team, i.e. a team of A Players, each with their own strengths suited for a specific role.
You don’t have to be a CEO to use the A method of hiring—it can be applied at any level in an organization, be it a department, business unit or a function.
Other Details in “WHO The A Method for Hiring”
This is an invaluable human resource (HR) guidebook, with clear, structured recruitment tips for hiring A Players. Besides the highlights in this summary, the book includes many other tips and insights, including: red flags or behavioral warning signs to look out for, 10 things required for installing the A method, legal traps to avoid, and numerous examples with specific scripts and phrases to help you get the most from your hiring process. Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our WHO summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or visit https://whothebook.com/.
Hire the Right People for the Right Roles with this 4-Step Approach!