June 27, 2010

HOW TO HIRE A-PLAYERS | And the winner is...

Congratulations to SF Varney for winning the autographed copy of Eric Herrenkohl's book "How to Hire A-Players."

June 24, 2010

HOW TO HIRE A-PLAYERS | 3 Helpful Resources

Continuing my quest to become better at hiring A-Players, I found three helpful resources about the topic:

Enter to win a free autographed copy of Eric Herrenkohl's book "How to Hire A-Players" by leaving a comment on my interview with Eric.

June 17, 2010

HOW TO HIRE A+++ PLAYERS | Never Good Enough

Since reading "HOW TO HIRE A-PLAYERS" by Eric Herrenkohl, I've been looking for opportunities to raise the bar on hiring standards. And this morning, I was struck by a curious point of view. What if your standards are to high? I'm sure it's a far less common dilemma than too low of standards, but still it must exist. What do you think?

Can someone's criteria be so strict that no one will ever match up? If so, what problems can that create? If not, why not? Would love to read what you think in the comments section.

Also, leave a comment on my interview with Eric and be entered to win an autographed copy of his book. Contest ends June 26.

June 12, 2010

HOW TO HIRE A-PLAYERS | Eric Herrenkohl

I've spent my entire career helping others improve their knowledge, their skills, their understanding, and most of all their performance. After reading Eric Herrenkohl's new book "How to Hire A-Players," I was reminded of the importance that hiring plays in getting strong results.

Eric clearly makes the case that hiring A-players is much more effective than hiring C-players and working to transform them into A-players. It reminded me of the old quote from Robert Heinlein, "Never attempt to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

How many times do we determine a performance gap is a training issue when in reality it's a hiring issue? Eric's thought-provoking book really got me thinking (read my 5 big ah-ha's from the book), so I followed-up with him and asked a few questions. You'll enjoy his answers below. Even better yet, Eric agreed to give away a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of his book to one lucky Observation Paper reader. Simply leave a comment to this post and you'll be entered to win. I'll draw the winner on Saturday, June 26.

1. How do you determine whether a performance problem is a training issue or a hiring issue?
You set up a strong training and coaching program, make sure to define the key results you want people to achieve, provide regular coaching, feedback, and accountability, and watch as some people excel, some improve, and others don't make much progress. You had a training issue with those who improved; you had a (mis)hiring issue with those who did not. From there, you create an A-player profile that defines superior performance and performers, start interviewing all the time, keep your couch full of potential candidates, and begin to upgrade the talent level in that key position or positions.

2. How do you create an A-Player profile?

Don't focus as much on the people you currently employ in a role. Instead, focus on the results you want from the job. Get input from people in and out of the organization who really understand the role. Take the time to define what success looks like for the role i.e. if people perform exceptionally well in the job, what results will follow? How will we measure those results? then, assess people currently in the job, compare those results to the profile you have created, and make final adjustments. The end result will be a profile that sets a higher performance bar for the role, and a process that helps people focus on the people they need in the role vs just accepting the people they have.

3. The principles you lay out in the book make a lot of sense, from your consulting experience why don't more organizations follow them?

More and more organizations are following these principles. They are the companies where the CEO is "recruiter in chief" for the business. This does not mean that he or she is mired in HR details. It does mean, however, that the leader of the business talks about creating a team of A-players all the time. Such leaders reject the "hiring to fill positions" mentality. They cast a vision for the business they want and help everybody in the organization to appreciate that finding the next great team member is everyone's priority.

Add your comments, thoughts, or own personal experience to the conversation in the comments section below and be entered to win a free autographed copy of "How to Hire A-Players" by Eric Herrenkohl. Winner will be drawn on Saturday, June 26.

June 8, 2010

Top 5 Favorite Tips from "How to Hire A-Players"

“If your team is one Great Dane surrounded by Chihuahuas, your ‘big dog’ is at risk.”

That was one of the vivid, concrete points that really jumped out at me in Eric Herrenkohl’s new book, “How to Hire A –Players.” It’s hard to argue with the premise that our organizations would be more effective if we staffed them fully with A-Players, but Herrenkohl goes beyond the motherhood-and-apple-pie maxims, making strong arguments to change the way we approach hiring and offers specific tactics on how to actually build a team of solid A-Players.

The following are my top 5 favorite ah-ha’s from this practical guide:

  1. “IF YOU DON’T KEEP HIRING A-PLAYERS, THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE MAY START TO LEAVE.” The opening quote at the top of this post comes from that section. Of course, I want all A-players on my team, but I never considered the full impact C-players can have on creating an environment that does not foster and support the continual growth needed for A-players. In a very real sense, A+C+C+C=F. (pages 11-12)
  2. “STAY IN TOUCH WITH EVERY A-PLAYER YOU MEET.” Timing is critical. Either you may not have the right opportunity available, or the A-player may not be ready to make a move. Keep in contact and build the relationship, so that when the timing is right, you’re both ready to make the move. Not to mention, you’ll learn a lot from ongoing connections with A-players. (pages 47-48)
  3. “STAY AT NETWORKING EVENTS UNTIL THE BITTER END.” The same is true with meetings and workshops, the best dialogues happen towards the end or even after the official ending time. My career has been helped many times by being at the right place at the right time, and I did that by lingering after events. It’s a great way to learn a little more. (pages 85-86)
  4. “TAKE THE PROFESSOR, NOT THE CLASS.” Herrenkohl uses this statement to set up his point, “hire the recruiter, not the firm.” I like the professor statement because it has larger appeal beyond hiring A-players. In selecting business partners, if you are looking for long-term continuity, you may want to focus not relying on one person, but for short-term projects, go with the person who will be running the project instead of focusing on the biggest and best firm. (page 146)
  5. “INTERVIEW CANDIDATES, DON’T EDUCATE THEM.” This was a big mistake for me early on. I was always selling the job to the candidate (I still catch myself at times). It’s their job to sell us, and it’s our job to get them to open up and elaborate on the details of their previous experiences to determine strengths and weaknesses. (pages 159-160)

The next post will be an interview with the Herrenkohl and a chance for you win an autographed copy of the book. Stay tuned!