I have a few folks that I mentor and I get interesting questions on occasion. This time it was “Who is the The Most Important Person I’ve Ever Hired?”

The first? I sometimes say that all you have to do is “hire one good person and let them hire the rest”. There is a gem of truth to that however, a person may be extremely competent in their field, pleasant  and of high character and yet still not be the world’s best judge of character or competence. A more evolved answer is create a good company culture and it will attract good people.

Another answer; EVERYONE is important, for it is truly a team effort and one bad apple unattended to can cause outsized issues. Yet another response is the LAST person or the NEXT person; every team is always growing and we live in a rapidly changing world and staying current is vital.

 Remember that your front line people, often some of the lower folks on your pay scale, have the greatest amount of customer contact. Food for thought! Training is vital, do not assume even the basics. We take our world view for granted and unconsciously believe everyone shares our basic values, in this case perhaps around customer service, or quality or productivity. Alignment and engagement between individual goals and your organization’s mission are crucial yet challenging to achieve and maintain.

“Hire fast, fire fast.” Hiring is like getting married after just a coupe of dates. You are making a long term, in depth commitment based upon extremely short acquaintance. You NEVER really know what a person is like until you live with them, until you work with them 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. Mistakes happen, that’s life. The worst mistake is not owning up to a mistake.

Just like a tree or bush, every organization needs to be regularly pruned. Such a plain statement may offend some but it is still true none the less. One of my highest values is to treat people with respect. So I do not lightly say that I (to my knowledge) have never fired anyone too soon; multiple times I took too long. Indeed, on at least two occasions I can distinctly remember being told by the person involved some version of “what took you so long?” (i.e. they were not happy either) but for whatever reason, they hesitated as well. While in the short run it can be upsetting, frequently by releasing a person from a bad fit you are truly “freeing up their future” for them to find a calling that they do love, a job for which they are better suited. Counseling, mentoring and coaching often work and even re-assignment; I’ve seen people flourish in a new position or under different bosses. However I’ve also seen bad apples traded around, no easy answer other than try and see! Sometimes nothing seems to work, at which times a good boss owes it to everyone else in the organzation to take effective action, tolerating substandard performance is unfair to all others who are doing their jobs and sends a very dis-spiriting message.

Also, while we are ALL leaders, we are all on stage to someone, some positions have a bigger leadership componet than others. I would say the most important people I hire are 1) The Leaders 2) the folks who hire other folks!

Closing Quotes
“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.” – Henry David Thoreau, “Life without Principle“
“You’re only as good as the people you hire.” – Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder
“ When I meet successful people I ask to what they attribute their success to. It is usually the same: persistence, hard work and hiring good people.” – Kiana Tom
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” Lawrence Bossidy, Former COO of GE

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. Nathan S. Collier