Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three mistakes to avoid when hiring a staff

Good column in the November 24 issue of BusinessWeek by Jack Welch (pictured here) about what NOT to do when building a staff:

1. Automatically reward loyalists.

"No matter how long you've worked for the top job, once you get it, the impulse is to 'endorse' your own early endorsers. What a shortcut to mediocrity, if not disaster.

Not all loyalists are hacks, but if they don't possess enormous brainpower, prodigious energy, and the ability to motivate, loyalists will forever remain B players in A jobs.

That's a huge problem for a simple reason: B players tend to hire other B players or, worse, C players, setting off an organizational chain reaction of underperformance."

2. Hire people who need the work or lust for the prestige of being on your team.

"There's almost nothing more appealing than a job candidate who looks you in the eye and tells you how passionately he wants to be your partner.

'How perfect,' you think, 'a person who shares the vision.'

And well he might. But there's a real danger if there are other motives as well, like advancing a stalled career or resurrecting a damaged one. They're the advisers least likely to deliver contrary messages. Why bite the hand that feeds you?"

3. Focus all your attention on crisis hires.

"Most new leaders inherit a burning problem, and naturally the tendency is to fixate on finding the right person to put it out. That has to be done. But a new boss must also rapidly attend to the leadership positions that address his overarching and long-term priorities. Remember, every hire you make says: 'Here's how much I care.' The leader's personnel selection is the ultimate message."