📚 Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Author: [[Geoff Smart, Randy Street]]

Full Title: Who

Recommended By: [[MK O'Connell]]

Tags: #Books [[AOI/Business]] [[AOI/Leadership]] [[AOI/HR]] [[AOI/Hiring]] [[AOI/DEIB]]

Completed Date: February 2023

Rating: 3 stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 🌚 🌚

Smart & Street provide a compelling mechanic and specific scripts to screen for A Players. Much of the advice lines up with what I was taught as the "structured interview" in business school.

I ding the first star on intellectual merit for neglecting the glaring "like me" and "pre-judgement" biases in this approach. I remove the second star on stylistic merit for the blatant and tasteless self-promotion.

Still, there are well-honed best practices that are wise to consider, improve, and incorporate in future hiring processes.

Overarching Notes:

Four most common mistakes in hiring decisions:

  1. Unclear about what is needed in a job
  2. Have a weak flow of candidates
  3. Do not trust their ability to pick out the right candidate from a group of similar-looking candidates
  4. Lose candidate they really want to join the team

10 common "voo doo hiring" - none correlated with desired outcomes

  1. Art Critic - people who think they are naturally equipped to “read” people on the fly
  2. Sponge - soak up information by spending as much time with people as possible. Ends up duplicating efforts and wasting time
  3. Prosecutor - aggressively question candidates, attempting to trip them up with trick questions and logic problems
  4. Suitor - spend all of their energy selling the applicant on the opportunity. Suitors are more concerned with impressing candidates
  5. Trickster - gimmicks to test for certain behaviors. They might throw a wad of paper on the floor, for example, to see if a candidate is willing to clean it up
  6. Animal Lover - favorite pet questions—questions they think will reveal something uniquely important about a candidate
  7. Chatterbox - Chat ideally without understanding if they are the right person for the job
  8. Psychological / Personality Tester - Bubble tests where savvy candidates can easily game the test
  9. Aptitude Tester - Nothing wrong here, as long as not in isolation
  10. Fortune-Teller - Ask future state questions like "how would you?"

A Player - candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve.

  • A Player is as the right superstar, a talented person who can do the job you need done, while fitting in with the culture of your company.

4 Steps to hire an A Player

  1. Scorecard - clarify and document outcomes and competencies for this job
  2. Source - systematically find great people
  3. Select - using structured interviews
  4. Sell - convince the chosen candidate to join your team

Scorecards

The scorecard is composed of three parts: the job’s mission, outcomes, and competencies. Together, these three pieces describe A performance in the role—what a person must accomplish, and how. They provide a clear linkage between the people you hire and your strategy.

If you’ve defined the position correctly from the outset, you should be looking for narrow but deep competence.

Outcomes describe what a person needs to accomplish in a role. Most of the jobs for which we hire have three to eight outcomes, ranked by order of importance.

  • This is effectively equivalent to KPIs for that role.

The mission defines the essence of the job to a high degree of specificity. Outcomes describe what must be accomplished. Competencies define how you expect a new hire to operate in the fulfillment of the job and the achievement of the outcomes.

Critical Competencies for A Players

Efficiency. Able to produce significant output with minimal wasted effort.

Honesty/integrity. Does not cut corners ethically. Earns trust and maintains confidences. Does what is right, not just what is politically expedient. Speaks plainly and truthfully.

Organization and planning. Plans, organizes, schedules, and budgets in an efficient, productive manner. Focuses on key priorities.

Aggressiveness. Moves quickly and takes a forceful stand without being overly abrasive. • Follow-through on commitments. Lives up to verbal and written agreements, regardless of personal cost.

  • This word alone triggers awareness given the research around job descriptions been biased toward men via aggressive phrasing.

Intelligence. Learns quickly. Demonstrates ability to quickly and proficiently understand and absorb new information.

Analytical skills. Able to structure and process qualitative or quantitative data and draw insightful conclusions from it. Exhibits a probing mind and achieves penetrating insights.

Attention to detail. Does not let important details slip through the cracks or derail a project.

Persistence. Demonstrates tenacity and willingness to go the distance to get something done.

Proactivity. Acts without being told what to do. Brings new ideas to the company.

Ability to hire A Players (for managers). Sources, selects, and sells A Players to join a company.

Ability to develop people (for managers). Coaches people in their current roles to improve performance, and prepares them for future roles.

Flexibility/adaptability. Adjusts quickly to changing priorities and conditions. Copes effectively with complexity and change.

Calm under pressure. Maintains stable performance when under heavy

Strategic thinking/visioning. Able to see and communicate the big picture in an inspiring way. Determines opportunities and threats through comprehensive analysis of current and future trends.

Creativity/innovation. Generates new and innovative approaches to problems.

Enthusiasm. Exhibits passion and excitement over work. Has a can-do attitude.

Work ethic. Possesses a strong willingness to work hard and sometimes long hours to get the job done. Has a track record of working hard.

High standards. Expects personal performance and team performance to be nothing short of the best. • Listening skills. Lets others speak and seeks to understand their viewpoints.

Openness to criticism and ideas. Often solicits feedback and reacts calmly to criticism or negative feedback.

Communication. Speaks and writes clearly and articulately without being overly verbose or talkative. Maintains this standard in all forms of written communication, including e-mail.

Teamwork. Reaches out to peers and cooperates with supervisors to establish an overall collaborative working relationship.

Persuasion. Able to convince others to pursue a course of action.

Competencies address both skill and value fit for the job.

HOW TO CREATE A SCORECARD
  1. MISSION. Develop a short statement of one to five sentences that describes why a role exists. For example, “The mission for the customer service representative is to help customers resolve their questions and complaints with the highest level of courtesy possible.”
  2. OUTCOMES. Develop three to eight specific, objective outcomes that a person must accomplish to achieve an A performance. For example, “Improve customer satisfaction on a ten-point scale from 7.1 to 9.0 by December 31.”
  3. COMPETENCIES. Identify as many role-based competencies as you think appropriate to describe the behaviors someone must demonstrate to achieve the outcomes. Next, identify five to eight competencies that describe your culture and place those on every scorecard. For example, “Competencies include efficiency, honesty, high standards, and a customer service mentality.”
  4. ENSURE ALIGNMENT AND COMMUNICATE. Pressure-test your scorecard by comparing it with the business plan and scorecards of the people who will interface with the role. Ensure that there is consistency and alignment. Then share the scorecard with relevant parties, including peers and recruiters.

Sourcing Talent

The CEOs of billion-dollar companies that we interviewed for this book recognize recruitment as one of their most important jobs.

Best way to source talent is from one's personal network. Hard part is keeping up the networking to fuel the sourcing engine.

Empower and incentivize employees to recruit.

  • Could be OKR goal

"Deputize" friends of the firm - incentivize beyond just employees

Hire external recruiters - but only after careful consideration and for very specific hard to fill positions

Hiring recruiting researchers is effectively useless (especially with LinkedIn now)

Script for opening referral call: “Sue recommended that you and I connect. I understand you are great at what you do. I am always on the lookout for talented people and would love the chance to get to know you. Even if you are perfectly content in your current job, I’d love to introduce myself and hear about your career interests. Now that you know a little about me, who are the most talented people you know who might be a good fit for my company?”

HOW TO SOURCE
  1. REFERRALS FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL NETWORKS. Create a list of the ten most talented people you know and commit to speaking with at least one of them per week for the next ten weeks. At the end of each conversation, ask, “Who are the most talented people you know?” Continue to build your list and continue to talk with at least one person per week.
  2. REFERRALS FROM YOUR EMPLOYEES. Add sourcing as an outcome on every scorecard for your team. For example, “Source five A Players per year who pass our phone screen.” Encourage your employees to ask people in their networks, “Who are the most talented people you know whom we should hire?” Offer a referral bonus.
  3. DEPUTIZING FRIENDS OF THE FIRM. Consider offering a referral bounty to select friends of the firm. It could be as inexpensive as a gift certificate or as expensive as a significant cash bonus.
  4. HIRING RECRUITERS. Use the method described in this book to identity and hire A Player recruiters. Build a scorecard for your recruiting needs, and hold the recruiters you hire accountable for the items on that scorecard. Invest time to ensure the recruiters understand your business and culture.
  5. HIRING RESEARCHERS. Identify recruiting researchers whom you can hire on contract, using a scorecard to specify your requirements. Ensure they understand your business and culture.
  6. SOURCING SYSTEMS. Create a system that (1) captures the names and contact information on everybody you source and (2) schedules weekly time on your calendar to follow up. Your solution can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as a candidate tracking system integrated with your calendar.

Structured Interviews

Conduct four interviews and use the time to collect facts and data about somebody’s performance track record that spans decades.

The four interviews are:

  1. The screening interview
  2. The Who Interview
  3. The focused interview
  4. The reference interview
Four essential questions in screener interview

1) What are your career goals?

  • Unprimed and, ideally, unadulterated clarity on what people seek.
  • A Players know what they want and can articulate clearly and well.
  • Useful for selling stage later to align your position with their true desires.

2) What are you really good at professionally?

  • Push candidates to tell you eight to twelve positives so you can build a complete picture of their professional aptitude.
  • Press for examples to ensure you understand what they are communicating (and to sure these are not vapid answers)

3) What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally?

  • Don't allow generic or inauthentic answers
  • To escalate, if necessary: If we move forward, one of our next steps is to set up reference calls with bosses, peers, and subordinates. What do you think they will say when we ask them this question?

4) Who were your last five bosses, and how will they each rate your performance on a scale of 1-10?

  • Make a point of writing down names for later reference calls if necessary

Take ~20 min for the 4 questions. Leave 10 min for their questions.

If not *thrilled* to bring the person back, do not advance them

"Get curious" with drill down questions:

  • “What do you mean?”
  • “How so?”
  • “What is an example of that?”
  • “How did you deal with it?”
  • “What happened?”
  • “Tell me more.”
  • “What did you do?”
  • “How did that feel?”
  • “What happened next?”
  • What did that look like?
  • What was your role?
  • What did your boss say?
  • What were the results?
  • What else?
  • How did you do that?
  • How did that go?
  • How did you feel?
  • How much money did you save?
  • How did you deal with that?
The extended interview

It’s a chronological walk-through of a person’s career. You begin by asking about the highs and lows of a person’s educational experience to gain insight into his or her background. Then you ask five simple questions, for each job in the past fifteen years, beginning with the earliest and working your way forward to the present day.

1) What were you hired to do?

  • What were their mission and key outcomes? What competencies might have mattered?

2) What accomplishments are you most proud of?

  • A Players tend to talk about outcomes linked to expectations. B and C Players talk generally about events, people they met, or aspects of the job they liked without ever getting into results.

3) What were some low points during that job?

4) Who were the people you worked with? Specifically

4a) What was your boss's name and how do you spell that? What was it like working with him / her? What will he / she say are your biggest strengths & areas for improvements?

  • prompts greater honesty with perceived accountability
  • Be sure to say "will" not "would" to reinforce that we'll be talking to them

Other framings

  • “What is your best guess for what he will say?”
  • “What kind of feedback did he give you on your reviews?”
  • “What about informally? What did he tell you in passing?"
  • “Well, what do you think he told others when he talked about you behind your back in his office, maybe to the board?”

4b) [For managers] how would you rate the team you inherited on an A, B, C scale? Did you hire anybody? Fire anybody? How would you rate the team when you left it on A, B, C scale?

5) Why did you leave that job?

  • The practical and emotional context of departing a job offers another angle to understand the candidate.

Extended interview best practices

The order is important - start with the oldest and work up to the present.

Set aside 1.5-3 hrs (depending on length of career)

Hiring manager owns the interview, and have one other person in the room to take notes / confirm perceptions

Set expectations early on to put candidates at ease

Sample intro script: "Eighty percent of the process is in this room, but if we mutually decide to continue, we will conduct reference calls to complete the process. Finally, while this sounds like a lengthy interview, it will go remarkably fast. I want to make sure you have the opportunity to share your full story, so it is my job to guide the pace of the discussion. Sometimes, we’ll go into more depth in a period of your career. Other times, I will ask that we move on to the next topic. I’ll try to make sure we leave plenty of time to cover your most recent, and frankly, most relevant jobs. Do you have any questions about the process?"

Master tactics

1) Interrupting - graciously and kindly interrupt to keep candidates on track. This ensures they have the best chance for the role.

2) Clarify context with 3 Ps - how did your performance compare to Prior year / Plan / Peers

  • How did your performance compare to the previous year’s performance?
  • How did your performance compare to the plan?
  • How did your performance compare to that of peers?

3) Push vs. pull - do not hire someone pushed out of 20+% of jobs

  • A Players tend to get invited and promoted into bigger and better roles

4) Paint a picture

5) Stop at the stop signs

The focused interview

Guide:

  • The pupose of this interview is to talk about _ (specific outcome or competency)
  • What are your biggest accomplishments in this area during your career?
  • What are your insights into your biggest mistakes and lessons learned in this area?

One more interview to deep dive a particular aspect or skill of the candidate

Each focused interview should take <1 hr and have a clear ask or task for supplemental data on the candidate

Could be used for values interviews

Useful to include other team members in the decision process

This is NOT to review history again

The reference interview

3 things to have success reference interviews:

  1. Pick the right references - Proactively request to speak with certain individuals notated from earlier questions, not just who the candidate gives you
  2. Ask candidate to set up reference calls - Doubles probability that they actually happen
  3. Conduct the right number - 4 personally plus another three from colleagues

Interview three past bosses, two peers or customers, and two subordinates.

Questions to ask reference:

In what context did you work with this person?

What were the person's biggest strengths?

  • Press for multiple to provide greater context

What were the person's biggest areas for improvement back then?

  • Press for multiple to provide greater context

How would you rate his/her overall performance in that job on a 1-10 scale? What about his or her performance causes you to give that rating?

  • Watch out for wide discrepancies with what candidate said in interview

The person mentioned that he/she might have struggled with _ in that job. Can you tell me more about that?

  • Framing of "might have" gives permission to reference person to speak more freely (somehow?)

Reference people often talk in code so as to not hurt feelings or job chances. Here are some flags to watch out for:

  • If ... then formulations
  • Um's, er's and other hesitations
  • Lukewarm or qualified praise

An A Player will have enthusiastic, unqualified praise and admiration from a manager or colleague

  • After each escalation in interview type, hiring manager does a Go / No Go assessment to determine terminating the process or moving forward.

Decide who to hire

Should be obvious, and for diligence fill out then compare scorecards for individuals who have made it to the final round.

When scoring, consider "Does this candidate have a 90% chance of achieving this outcome / competency?"

Red flags to watch out for:

  • Candidate does not mention past failures.
  • Candidate exaggerates his or her answers.
  • Candidate takes credit for the work of others.
  • Candidate speaks poorly of past bosses.
  • Candidate cannot explain job moves.
  • People most important to candidate are unsupportive of change.
  • For managerial hires, candidate has never had to hire or fire anybody.
  • Candidate seems more interested in compensation and benefits than in the job itself.
  • Candidate tries too hard to look like an expert.
  • Candidate is self-absorbed.
HOW TO SELECT AN A PLAYER
  1. SCREENING INTERVIEW: Conduct a twenty- to thirty-minute screening interview, using the four key questions. Probe for more information by using the “What? How? Tell me more” framework. Filter out obvious B and C Players from your hiring pipeline.
  2. EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Conduct a Who Interview of one and a half to three hours by walking chronologically through a candidate’s career, using the same five questions for each job or chapter in the person’s work history. The hiring manager and one other colleague should conduct the interview in tandem.
  3. FOCUSED INTERVIEW(s): Involve others in the hiring process by assigning team members to conduct interviews that focus on the outcomes and/or competencies on the scorecard.
  4. CANDIDATE DISCUSSION: Following each day of interviews, grade the scorecard using the skill-will framework. Advance those whose skill (what they are fundamentally good at doing) and will (what they want to do, and in what type of culture) match the mission, outcomes, and competencies on your scorecard. Look for people whom you would rate an A on the critical outcomes and key competencies. Nobody is perfect, but seek those who are strong in the most important places of your scorecard.
  5. REFERENCE INTERVIEW: Conduct seven reference calls with people you choose from the Who Interview. Ask the candidate to set up the calls to break through the gatekeepers while minimizing your own effort.
  6. FINAL DECISION: Repeat your analysis of the skill-will profile to ensure you still have a bull’s-eye.

Sell the candidate

The five areas, which we call the five F’s of selling, are: fit, family, freedom, fortune, and fun.

  • Fit ties together the company’s vision, needs, and culture with the candidate’s goals, strengths, and values. “Here is where we are going as a company. Here is how you fit in.”
  • Family takes into account the broader trauma of changing jobs. “What can we do to make this change as easy as possible for your family?”
  • Freedom is the autonomy the candidate will have to make his or her own decisions. “I will give you ample freedom to make decisions, and I will not micromanage you.”
  • Fortune reflects the stability of your company and the overall financial upside. “If you accomplish your objectives, you will likely make [compensation amount] over the next five years.”
  • Fun describes the work environment and personal relationships the candidate will make.

The waves of selling are:

1. When you source

2. When you interview

3. The time between your offer and the candidate’s acceptance

4. The time between the candidate’s acceptance and his or her first day

  • suggest celebrating their acceptance by sending something meaningful, such as flowers, balloons, or a gift certificate

5. The new hire’s first one hundred days on the job

Sell with persistence and tenacity

HOW TO SELL A PLAYERS
  1. Identify which of the five F’s really matter to the candidate: fit, family, freedom, fortune, or fun.
  2. Create and execute a plan to address the relevant F’s during the five waves of selling: during sourcing, during interviews, between offer and acceptance, between acceptance and the first day, and during the first one hundred days on the job.
  3. Be persistent. Don’t give up until you have your A Player on board.

How to set up A Method for hiring in your company

10 steps

  1. Make people a top priority
  2. Lead by example & use method for your own team
  3. Build support among executive team and peers
  4. Cast a clear vision and reinforce with broader team
  5. Train team on best practices
  6. Remove barriers that impede success
  7. Implement new policies to support the change (e.g. scorecard required for every new hire)
  8. Recognize and reward those who use the method and achieve results
  9. Remove managers who are not on board
  10. Celebrate wins and plan for more change

Be mindful that A Players change and shape cultures, so be ready and flexible

Addendum

"Cheetah" CEOs that move quickly and aggressively outperform other profiles of CEOs

Scorecard changes as someone moves up an organization

Favorite Quotes: #[[Quote Collection]]

"What is a resume? It is a record of a person’s career with all of the accomplishments embellished and all the failures removed."
-George Buckley, successful CEO of two Fortune 500 companies
“The fastest way to improve a company’s performance is to improve the talent of the workforce, whether it is the ultimate leader or someone leading a divisional organization. It energizes the company and leads to positive things.”
- John Zillmer, CEO of Allied Waste
"I set a goal of personally recruiting thirty people a year to Aon. And I ask my managers to do the same. We are constantly asking people we know to introduce us to the talented people they know."
- Patrick Ryan, who grew Aon Corporation from a start-up in 1964 to a $13 billion company

Further areas [[To Research]]

  • October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist
  • What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Goldsmith identifies twenty behavioral derailers

Book highlights

  • All told, we conducted over thirteen hundred hours of interviews and countless additional hours of analysis for this project. (Location 157)
  • Out of this mountain of research, we have identified four parts of the hiring process where failure typically occurs. (Location 161)
  • ^^Who mistakes happen when managers^^: • Are unclear about what is needed in a job • Have a weak flow of candidates • Do not trust their ability to pick out the right candidate from a group of similar-looking candidates • Lose candidates they really want to join their team (Location 163)
  • who problems are also preventable. (Location 174)
  • In an October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist reported that finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today.*1 (Location 189)
  • George Buckley grew up with adoptive parents in a boardinghouse in a rough part of Sheffield, England, went to a school for physically handicapped children, and worked his way up to becoming the successful CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, where he works now. (Location 206)
  • When we met with Buckley, he got straight to the point: “One of the hardest challenges is to hire people from outside the company. One of the basic failures in the hiring process is this: What is a resume? It is a record of a person’s career with all of the accomplishments embellished and all the failures removed.” (Location 209)
  • VOODOO HIRING (Location 221)
  • Steve Kerr, the legendary management expert who built Crotonville for Jack Welch at GE, and who most recently served as managing director and chief learning officer at Goldman Sachs, has a simple answer: “Otherwise smart people struggle to hire strangers. People unfamiliar with great hiring methods consider the process a mysterious black art.” (Location 223)
  • 1. The Art Critic. (Location 230)
  • though, people who think they are naturally equipped to “read” people on the fly are setting themselves up to be fooled big-time. (Location 232)
  • 2. The… (Location 235)
  • soak up information by spending as much time with people as possible. Unfortunately, managers rarely coordinate their efforts, leaving everybody… (Location 236)
  • 3. The… (Location 240)
  • aggressively question candidates, attempting to trip them up with trick… (Location 241)
  • 4. The… (Location 245)
  • spend all of their energy selling the applicant on the opportunity. Suitors are more concerned with impressing candidates… (Location 246)
  • 5. The… (Location 249)
  • gimmicks to test for certain behaviors. They might throw a wad of paper on the floor, for example, to see if a candidate is willing to clean it up, or take him to a party to… (Location 249)
  • 6. The Animal… (Location 252)
  • Many managers hold on stubbornly to their favorite pet questions—questions they think will reveal something uniquely important about a candidate. One executive takes this literally, telling us that he judged candidates by their… (Location 252)
  • 7. The… (Location 257)
  • Although enjoyable, the… (Location 258)
  • does nothing to help you make a good decision. You’re supposed to be picking up a future trusted colleague, not someone with whom… (Location 259)
  • 8. The Psychological and… (Location 260)
  • reason. Asking a candidate a series of bubble-test questions like “Do you tease small animals?” or “Would you rather be at a cocktail party or the library on a Friday night?” is not useful (although both are actual questions on popular psychological tests), and it’s certainly not predictive of success on the job. Savvy… (Location 262)
  • 9. The Aptitude… (Location 265)
  • Tests can help managers determine whether a person has the right aptitude for a specific role, such as persistence for a business development position, but they should never become the sole determinant in a hiring decision. As we’ll see in Chapter 2, aptitude is only part of a much larger equation. Use… (Location 265)
  • 10. The… (Location 268)
  • some interviewers like to ask their candidates to look into the future regarding the job at hand by asking hypothetical questions: “What would you do? How would you do it? Could you do it?” Fifty years of academic literature on interview methods makes a… (Location 269)
  • At the bottom line, all these voodoo hiring methods share an assumption that it’s easy to assess a person. Just find the right gimmicks, pop the right quiz, and trust the scattered chicken bones to point the way, and you’re certain to have great hiring outcomes. Beyond that, we’re all prone to certain cognitive traps. We want to make quick decisions to get on with things. We like to see people as fundamentally truthful. We wish that… (Location 274)
  • FINDING A… (Location 279)
  • What is an A… (Location 282)
  • Think of an A Player as the right superstar, a talented person who can do the job you need done, while fitting in with the culture of your company. We define an A Player this way: a candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes… (Location 283)
  • The A Method defines a simple process for identifying and hiring A Players with a high degree of success. It helps you get the who right. (Location 320)
  • The four steps are: (Location 322)
  • • Scorecard. The scorecard is a document that describes exactly what you want a person to accomplish in a role. It is not a job description, but rather a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job done well. By defining A performance for a role, the scorecard gives you a clear picture of what the person you seek needs to be able to accomplish. • Source. Finding great people is getting harder, but it is not impossible. Systematic sourcing before you have slots to fill ensures you have high-quality candidates waiting when you need them. • Select. Selecting talent in the A Method involves a series of structured interviews that allow you to gather the relevant facts about a person so you can rate your scorecard and make an informed hiring decision. These structured interviews break the voodoo hiring spell. • Sell. Once you identify people you want on your team through selection, you need to persuade them to join. Selling the right way ensures you avoid the biggest pitfalls that cause the very people you want the most to take their talents elsewhere. It also protects you from the biggest heartbreak of all—losing the perfect candidate at the eleventh hour. (Location 323)
  • John Zillmer as CEO of Allied Waste. (Location 338)
  • As Zillmer told us, “I think the fastest way to improve a company’s performance is to improve the talent of the workforce, whether it is the ultimate leader or someone leading a divisional organization. It just energizes the company and leads to positive things.” (Location 344)
  • Scorecards are your blueprint for success. (Location 353)
  • Scorecards describe the ^^mission^^ for the position, ^^outcomes^^ that must be accomplished, and ^^competencies^^ that fit with both the culture of the company and the role. (Location 354)
  • The first failure point of hiring is not being crystal clear about what you really want the person you hire to accomplish. (Location 367)
  • Neville Isdell, chairman and former CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, offered an example of this concept at work from his own experience. “In hiring, everything is situational,” he told us, “and no situation is entirely replicable. You are going to need different types of leaders at different phases of organizations. (Location 371)
  • The scorecard is composed of three parts: the job’s mission, outcomes, and competencies. Together, these three pieces describe A performance in the role—what a person must accomplish, and how. They provide a clear linkage between the people you hire and your strategy. (Location 379)
  • MISSION: THE ESSENCE OF THE JOB (Location 382)
  • The mission is an executive summary of the job’s core purpose. It boils the job down to its essence so everybody understands why you need to hire someone into the slot. (Location 383)
  • Don’t Hire the Generalist. Hire the Specialist. (Location 397)
  • Note: I find this counter to their original stated premise of hiring is contextual. I find the discourse around generalist vs. specialist much more nuanced than presented here, but their points are valid and well received
  • All-around athletes are the candidates who walk into our offices bearing impressive pedigrees, polished attire, and admirable accomplishments in a wide variety of roles. They seem to be able to do it all. They speak well, learn quickly, offer broad insights on company strategy, and convince us that they can adapt to virtually any challenge or task the company might place on their shoulders. In theory, who wouldn’t want someone like that on the team? Yet one of the most consistent findings from our interviews with dozens upon dozens of CEOs and top executives is that hiring all-around athletes rarely works. (Location 399)
  • If you’ve defined the position correctly from the outset, you should be looking for narrow but deep competence. (Location 405)
  • As Nick Chabraja, the CEO of General Dynamics, puts it, “I think success comes from having the right person in the right job at the right time with the right skill set for the business problem that exists.” (Location 410)
  • scorecards need to be evolving documents, not static ones. (Location 430)
  • OUTCOMES: DEFINING WHAT MUST GET DONE (Location 438)
  • Outcomes, the second part of a scorecard, describe what a person needs to accomplish in a role. Most of the jobs for which we hire have three to eight outcomes, ranked by order of importance. (Location 439)
  • you’ll scare off B and C Players (Location 445)
  • Note: What's not clear is how much of the scorecard is communicated to the candidate. Are these outcomes noted in the job description? Shared in the first screener interview? For it to "scare off" anyone they need to know it exists.
  • While typical job descriptions break down because they focus on activities, or a list of things a person will be doing (calling on customers, selling), scorecards succeed because they focus on outcomes, or what a person must get done (grow revenue from $25 million to $50 million by the end of year three). (Location 447)
  • Not all jobs allow you to quantify the outcome so easily. (Location 451)
  • Note: The rigor of OKRs and creating quantifiable outcomes (/ key results) aligned with strategic objectives makes this trivial.
  • COMPETENCIES: ENSURING BEHAVIORAL FIT (Location 459)
  • The mission defines the essence of the job to a high degree of specificity. Outcomes describe what must be accomplished. Competencies define how you expect a new hire to operate in the fulfillment of the job and the achievement of the outcomes. (Location 461)
  • ^^Critical Competencies for A Players^^ (Location 467)
  • • Efficiency. Able to produce significant output with minimal wasted effort. (Location 468)
  • • Honesty/integrity. Does not cut corners ethically. Earns trust and maintains confidences. Does what is right, not just what is politically expedient. Speaks plainly and truthfully. • Organization and planning. Plans, organizes, schedules, and budgets in an efficient, productive manner. Focuses on key priorities. • Aggressiveness. Moves quickly and takes a forceful stand without being overly abrasive. • Follow-through on commitments. Lives up to verbal and written agreements, regardless of personal cost. • Intelligence. Learns quickly. Demonstrates ability to quickly and proficiently understand and absorb new information. • Analytical skills. Able to structure and process qualitative or quantitative data and draw insightful conclusions from it. Exhibits a probing mind and achieves penetrating insights. • Attention to detail. Does not let important details slip… (Location 469)
  • a list of competencies that we hand out when we are introducing new clients to the A Method for Hiring. The list begins with the competencies we just shared. In addition, you might want to consider some of the… (Location 482)
  • • Ability to hire A Players (for managers). Sources, selects, and sells A Players to join a company. • Ability to develop people (for managers). Coaches people in their current roles to improve performance, and prepares them for future roles. • Flexibility/adaptability. Adjusts quickly to changing priorities and conditions. Copes effectively with complexity and change. • Calm under pressure. Maintains stable performance when under heavy… (Location 484)
  • way. Determines opportunities and threats through comprehensive analysis of current and future trends. • Creativity/innovation. Generates new and innovative approaches to problems. • Enthusiasm. Exhibits passion and excitement over work. Has a can-do attitude. • Work ethic. Possesses a strong willingness to work hard and sometimes long hours to get the job done. Has a track record of working hard. • High standards. Expects personal performance and team performance to be nothing short of the best. • Listening skills. Lets others speak and seeks to understand their viewpoints. • Openness to criticism and ideas. Often solicits feedback and reacts calmly to criticism or negative feedback. • Communication. Speaks and writes clearly and articulately without being overly verbose or talkative. Maintains this standard in all forms of written… (Location 491)
  • Bill Johnson, the CEO of Heinz since 1998, (Location 511)
  • “Chemistry is always important for both the individual and the company,” Johnson said. “If I don’t have good chemistry with you, and you don’t have good chemistry with me, then skip it. Connecting with them personally is important. That becomes obvious in my initial conversations with a candidate. “Number two is commitment. Theirs to you and yours to them. That is a difficult thing to assess, but it really matters. I want people who are committed. “Third, are they coachable? I underestimated this earlier in my career. You can pass on learning and shortcut their development if they are. “Number four is, do they have their ego under control? Are they prepared to address the problem? If they are thinking about the next job, they will fail. They must be focused on the job they have. “Number five, do they have the requisite intellect?” (Location 512)
  • Bill Johnson’s list captures what he values most for people who report to him, regardless of role. Make sure yours does the same. (Location 523)
  • CULTURAL COMPETENCIES: ENSURING ORGANIZATIONAL FIT (Location 524)
  • Competencies work at two levels. They define the skills and behaviors required for a job, and they reflect the broader demands of your organizational culture. Job competencies are generally easier to list, but cultural fit is just as important. (Location 525)
  • Evaluating cultural fit (Location 530)
  • Note: Cultural fit feels like gobbledy gook to me (and has been empirically shown to be a bludgeon of enforcing status quo, consciously or subconsciously) More appropriate is the concept of "value alignment"
  • Culture fits—or misfits—inevitably affect the bottom line, but they are about much more than money. (Location 540)
  • Scorecards are the guardians of your culture. (Location 597)
  • Note: The structure implies (but does not make explicit enough) a hierarchy. First, they need to be capable. No matter how good the fit, if they're not capable then no dice. Within the set of A players, hire the ones that fit and don't the ones that don't.
  • FROM SCORECARD TO STRATEGY (Location 599)
  • At a keynote speech at a Fortune magazine conference a couple of years ago, we asked the two hundred CEOs in the room, “How many of you have in place written objectives for all of your direct reports?” Only 10 percent raised their hands. One in ten! (Location 606)
  • A good scorecard process translates the objectives of the strategy into clear outcomes for the CEO and senior leadership team. (Location 611)
  • Note: OKR is a type of operational scorecard, then
  • Scorecards: • Set expectations with new hires • Monitor employee progress over time • Objectify your annual review system • Allow you to rate your team annually as part of a talent review process (Location 624)
  • Note: Important for DEIB and honored in OKRs
  • ^^HOW TO CREATE A SCORECARD^^ 1. MISSION. Develop a short statement of one to five sentences that describes why a role exists. For example, “The mission for the customer service representative is to help customers resolve their questions and complaints with the highest level of courtesy possible.” 2. OUTCOMES. Develop three to eight specific, objective outcomes that a person must accomplish to achieve an A performance. For example, “Improve customer satisfaction on a ten-point scale from 7.1 to 9.0 by December 31.” 3. COMPETENCIES. Identify as many role-based competencies as you think appropriate to describe the behaviors someone must demonstrate to achieve the outcomes. Next, identify five to eight competencies that describe your culture and place those on every scorecard. For example, “Competencies include efficiency, honesty, high standards, and a customer service mentality.” 4. ENSURE ALIGNMENT AND COMMUNICATE. Pressure-test your scorecard by comparing it with the business plan and scorecards of the people who will interface with the role. Ensure that there is consistency and alignment. Then share the scorecard with relevant parties, including peers and recruiters. (Location 655)
  • Getting great candidates does not happen without significant effort. (Location 676)
  • The CEOs of billion-dollar companies that we interviewed for this book recognize recruitment as one of their most important jobs. They consider themselves chief recruiting officers and expect all of their managers to view their jobs the same way. (Location 676)
  • Note: Fascinating and important point - exceptional (and invitational) leaders are always beaming their signal of excellence and actively seek others to play along.
  • The overwhelming evidence from our field interviews is that ads are a good way to generate a tidal wave of resumes, but a lousy way to generate the right flow of candidates. Other methods include using recruiters and recruiting researchers, although success depends heavily on the quality of the actual recruiter assigned to your search. (Location 692)
  • Of all the ways to source candidates, the number one method is to ask for referrals from your personal and professional networks. (Location 695)
  • REFERRALS FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL NETWORKS (Location 699)
  • 77 percent of them cited referrals as their top technique for generating a flow of the right candidates for their businesses. Yet among average managers it is the least often practiced approach to sourcing. (Location 701)
  • Patrick Ryan, who grew Aon Corporation from a start-up in 1964 to a $13 billion company. “I am not really smarter than the next person,” he told us. “There are lots of smart people in business. I guess the one thing that I have done over the years that is different from most people is that I am constantly on the hunt for talented people to bring into my company. (Location 703)
  • “I set a goal of personally recruiting thirty people a year to Aon. And I ask my managers to do the same. We are constantly asking people we know to introduce us to the talented people they know.” (Location 706)
  • Ryan’s approach is among the easiest we have seen. Whenever he meets somebody new, he asks this simple, powerful question: “Who are the most talented people you know that I should hire?” (Location 708)
  • Note: So powerful. Instantly folding this in to my flow
  • Talented people know talented people, and they’re almost always glad to pass along one another’s names. (Location 709)
  • Bring your broader business contacts in on the hunt, too. Ask your customers for the names of the most talented salespeople who call on them. Ask your business partners who they think are the most effective business developers. Do the same with your suppliers to identify their strongest purchasing agents. Join professional organizations and ask the people you meet through events. People you interact with every day are the most powerful sources of talent you will ever find. (Location 715)
  • now that I have told you what I do, who are the most talented people you know who could be a good fit for my company?” Do that, and you will turn a common social question into a sourcing opportunity. (Location 720)
  • What sets Patrick Ryan apart from so many other executives is how he actively built his network through referrals, then followed up with high-potential candidates to maintain the relationship. He kept his sourcing network alive and constantly renewed. And because he was disciplined about doing so, he didn’t have to go looking when a position opened up at Aon, including his own job. (Location 738)
  • REFERRALS FROM EMPLOYEES (Location 741)
  • Selim Bassoul, the chairman and CEO of Middleby Corporation, (Location 745)
  • “Our employees became our number-one recruiting technique,” he said. “We told the employees, ‘If you spot somebody like us, at a customer, at a supplier, or at a competitor, we want to hire them.’ That became very successful. People would say there is a great person there; let’s go after them. Employees referred 85 percent of our new hires!” (Location 746)
  • At ghSMART, we’ve made in-house referrals a key part not only of our staffing policies but also of promotions. Principals have to source three candidates who can pass a phone screen by our CEO to earn eligibility for a promotion to partner. The payoff, as far as we’re concerned, has been little short of amazing. In the past two years, 80 percent of our new hires have come from team member referrals. (Location 752)
  • Note: Love how this aligns with their worldview and mission. How might we create a promotion standard that aligns with our own values and mission? And how can we elevate hiring A Players to the same level?
  • Try including something along the lines of “Source [number] A Player candidates per year,” then reward the effort by providing a financial or other incentive such as extra vacation time for those who achieve and exceed the goal. (Location 756)
  • Note: OKR for individuals?
  • Maybe the greatest benefit of in-house sourcing, though, is how it alters the mind-set throughout an enterprise. By turning employees into talent spotters, everyone starts viewing the business through a who lens, not just a what one. (Location 759)
  • Note: Key insight - behaviors follow beliefs
  • Note: Create hiring / referral incentives for people outside the firm.
  • In this case, Howard said, the incentive is both particular to the business and quite inventive: “They get to invest in our funds without fees.” (Location 774)
  • Note: Could be clever beyond straight dollars
  • Deputizing friends of the firm will create new, accelerated sources of talent, but you still need to pay attention to process, and you have to be disciplined. Make sure that the deputies are reporting in on a regular basis, and whatever incentive you choose, check and double-check that it’s sufficient so that busy people will participate. (Location 786)
  • HIRING EXTERNAL RECRUITERS (Location 790)
  • Think of recruiters much the way you would think of a doctor or a financial advisor. The more you keep them in the dark about who you are, what’s wrong, and what you really need, the less effective they will be. (Location 791)
  • HIRING RECRUITING RESEARCHERS (Location 802)
  • The downside with researchers is that they won’t qualify candidates as thoroughly as you might like. That vetting process falls on the internal recruiters or the hiring manager directly. (Location 808)
  • Note: With LinkedIn, researchers feel like a dated and irrelevant function
  • You can help tailor the flow of candidates to your needs by taking time at the front end to orient recruiting researchers to your culture, business needs, and even management style and preferences. (Location 812)
  • SOURCING SYSTEMS (Location 815)
  • Sourcing talent through these proven practices is easy. The challenge is less a matter of knowing what to do than of putting a system in place to manage the process—and having the discipline to follow through. (Location 815)
  • The final step in the sourcing process, the one that matters more than anything else you can do, is scheduling thirty minutes on your calendar every week to identify and nurture A Players. A standing meeting on Monday or Friday will keep you honest by forcing you to call the top talent on your radar screen. (Location 829)
  • Here’s a best practice that puts that thirty minutes to work. Close the door to your office or go into a conference room. Pull out your list of potential A Players and sort the list by priority. Now, start making calls until you have at least one live conversation. (Location 832)
  • The conversation does not have to be long. We frequently begin with something simple like, “Sue recommended that you and I connect. I understand you are great at what you do. I am always on the lookout for talented people and would love the chance to get to know you. Even if you are perfectly content in your current job, I’d love to introduce myself and hear about your career interests.” (Location 834)
  • One more thing. When you are done with the call, assuming you were even moderately impressed with what you heard, be sure to ask the key follow-up question: “Now that you know a little about me, who are the most talented people you know who might be a good fit for my company?” (Location 838)
  • ^^HOW TO SOURCE^^ 1. REFERRALS FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL NETWORKS. Create a list of the ten most talented people you know and commit to speaking with at least one of them per week for the next ten weeks. At the end of each conversation, ask, “Who are the most talented people you know?” Continue to build your list and continue to talk with at least one person per week. 2. REFERRALS FROM YOUR EMPLOYEES. Add sourcing as an outcome on every scorecard for your team. For example, “Source five A Players per year who pass our phone screen.” Encourage your employees to ask people in their networks, “Who are the most talented people you know whom we should hire?” Offer a referral bonus. 3. DEPUTIZING FRIENDS OF THE FIRM. Consider offering a referral bounty to select friends of the firm. It could be as inexpensive as a gift certificate or as expensive as a significant cash bonus. 4. HIRING RECRUITERS. Use the method described in this book to identity and hire A Player recruiters. Build a scorecard for your recruiting needs, and hold the recruiters you hire accountable for the items on that scorecard. Invest time to ensure the recruiters understand your business and culture. 5. HIRING RESEARCHERS. Identify recruiting researchers whom you can hire on contract, using a scorecard to specify your requirements. Ensure they understand your business and culture. 6. SOURCING SYSTEMS. Create a system that (1) captures the names and contact information on everybody you source and (2) schedules weekly time on your calendar to follow up. Your solution can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as a candidate tracking system integrated with your calendar. (Location 885)
  • ^^According to the four thousand studies and meta-analyses we’ve examined, traditional interviewing is simply not predictive of job performance.^^ (Location 914)
  • The best and surest way we have found to select A Players is through a series of four interviews that build on each other. (Location 917)
  • Instead, the four interviews use the time to collect facts and data about somebody’s performance track record that spans decades. (Location 923)
  • The four interviews are: • The screening interview • The Who Interview® • The focused interview • The reference interview (Location 924)
  • THE SCREENING INTERVIEW: CULLING THE LIST (Location 929)
  • The screening interview is a short, phone-based interview designed to clear out B and C Players from your roster of candidates. (Location 930)
  • Four essential questions will help you build a comprehensive fact base for weeding out clear B and C Players in a screening interview. (Location 941)
  • What are your career goals? (Location 943)
  • hear about a candidate’s goals and passions before you taint the discussion with your own comments. (Location 944)
  • Ideally, a candidate will share career goals that match your company’s needs. If he or she lacks goals or sounds like an echo of your own Web site, screen the person out. (Location 946)
  • Talented people know what they want to do and are not afraid to tell you about it. (Location 947)
  • You also want to hear the candidate speak with passion and energy about topics that are aligned with the role. A clear misalignment should put you on alert. (Location 948)
  • What are you really good at professionally? (Location 952)
  • We suggest you push candidates to tell you eight to twelve positives so you can build a complete picture of their professional aptitude. (Location 954)
  • If they say they are decisive, press for an example of a time when this trait served them well, and remember, you are listening for strengths that match the job at hand. (Location 955)
  • If you see a major gap between someone’s strengths and your scorecard, screen that person out. (Location 956)
  • What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally? (Location 958)
  • let the candidates answer as they will. Then if you’re not satisfied, push them for a real weakness or a… (Location 960)
  • If you hear these cookie-cutter answers, simply say, “That sounds like a strength to me. What are you really not good at or not interested in doing?” Talented people will… (Location 961)
  • If you still find yourself struggling, we recommend that you put the fear of the reference check into the person. You say, “If you advance to the next step in our process, we will ask for your help in setting up some references with bosses, peers, and subordinates. Okay?” The candidate will say, “Okay.” Then you say, “So I’m curious. What… (Location 963)
  • You will be amazed how much of a truth serum this technique can be at this stage of… (Location 967)
  • identify at least five to eight areas where a person falls short, lacks interest, or… (Location 969)
  • If you come up woefully short, if the weaknesses are all strengths in disguise, or if you see any deal killers relative to your… (Location 970)
  • Who were your last five bosses, and how will they each rate your performance on a 1–10… (Location 972)
  • Notice the language used in the question: “How will they rate you when we talk to them?” Not “… (Location 973)
  • In our experience, that slight nuance to the question is key to… (Location 975)
  • Ask candidates to list each boss and offer a rating for each. Follow up by pressing for details. What makes them think their boss would rate them a 7? Candidates will reinforce and expand upon the list of strengths and… (Location 976)
  • You are looking for lots of 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s in the ratings. Consider 7’s neutral; 6’s and… (Location 978)
  • Review the scorecard before the call to refresh your memory. Then begin the call by setting expectations, saying something like this: “I am really looking forward to our time together. Here’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to spend the… (Location 983)
  • I am happy to answer any questions you have so you can get to… (Location 985)
  • If you don’t like what you are hearing, simply collapse the call by… (Location 988)
  • Conclude the call by offering the candidate an opportunity to ask questions of you. You’ll be in a better position to sell the candidate on the virtues of your firm based on what you learned in the first twenty… (Location 991)
  • Am I thrilled about bringing this person in for a series of interviews based on the data I have?” You want to be excited about that possibility. You want to have the feeling that you have found the one. If you have any hesitation, or if you find yourself thinking you want to… (Location 996)
  • GETTING CURIOUS: WHAT, HOW,… (Location 1000)
  • After a candidate answers one of the primary questions above, get curious about the answer by asking a follow-up question that begins with “What,” “How,” or “Tell me more.” Keep using this framework until you are clear about what the person is really saying. (Location 1004)
  • “What do you mean?” (Location 1011)
  • “How so?” (Location 1012)
  • “What is an example of that?” (Location 1014)
  • “How did you deal with it?” (Location 1016)
  • “What happened?” (Location 1018)
  • “Tell me more.” (Location 1019)
  • “What did you do?” (Location 1021)
  • “How did that feel?” (Location 1022)
  • “What happened next?” (Location 1024)
  • Sample questions include: What do you mean? What did that look like? What happened? What is a good example of that? What was your role? What did you do? What did your boss say? What were the results? What else? How did you do that? How did that go? How did you feel? How much money did you save? How did you deal with that? (Location 1029)
  • HIT THE GONG FAST (Location 1035)
  • John Sharpe offers another perspective on screening. He spent twenty-three years at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, most recently as president. “I think gut feel and instinct is particularly important in determining who not to hire,” (Location 1054)
  • THE WHO INTERVIEW: THE POWER OF PATTERNS FOR CHOOSING WHO (Location 1067)
  • Brad and Geoff coauthored the 1997 article “Topgrading the Organization.” Brad went on to write the book Topgrading, which describes his approach to talent management.* (Location 1074)
  • It’s a chronological walk-through of a person’s career. You begin by asking about the highs and lows of a person’s educational experience to gain insight into his or her background. Then you ask five simple questions, for each job in the past fifteen years, beginning with the earliest and working your way forward to the present day. (Location 1092)
  • What were you hired to do? (Location 1099)
  • This first question is a clear window into candidates’ goals and targets for a specific job. In a way, you are trying to discover what their scorecard might have been if they had had one. They might not know off the top of their head, so coach them by asking how they thought their success was measured in the role. Build a mental image of what their scorecard should have been. What were their mission and key outcomes? What competencies might have mattered? (Location 1100)
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? (Location 1103)
  • most candidates naturally focus on what (Location 1105)
  • really mattered to them at that time in their career rather than regurgitate what they put on their resume. (Location 1106)
  • we are always wary when a candidate’s accomplishments seem to lack any correlation to the expectations of the job. Be sure to listen for that clue. (Location 1109)
  • ^^A Players tend to talk about outcomes linked to expectations^^. B and C Players talk generally about events, people they met, or aspects of the job they liked without ever getting into results. (Location 1110)
  • What were some low points during that job? (Location 1112)
  • Our recommendation is to reframe the question over and over until the candidate gets the message. “What went really wrong? What was your biggest mistake? What would you have done differently? What part of the job did you not like? In what ways were your peers stronger than you?” Don’t let the candidate off the hook. Keep pushing until the candidate shares the lows. (Location 1115)
  • Who were the people you worked with? (Location 1118)
  • Begin by asking candidates for their boss’s name. Ask them to spell it for you, and make a point to show them you are writing it down. “Jane Smith, you say? That is S, M, I, T, H, right?” Forcing candidates to spell the name out no matter how common it might be sends a powerful message: you are going to call, so they should tell the truth. (Location 1122)
  • Now ask, “What will Ms. Smith say were your biggest strengths and areas for improvement?” Be sure to say will, not would. This is like the spelling question above. By asking “What will Ms. Smith say?” you are again signaling that this isn’t a hypothetical question. You mean business. Candidates quickly realize they have to tell you the truth because you are going to learn it from your reference calls anyway. (Location 1130)
  • Nothing, of course, works every time. Some candidates will insist that they don’t know what the boss will say. Our advice is to keep reframing the question until you get an answer, but even that can take unusual persistence. (Location 1141)
  • “What is your best guess for what he will say?” (Location 1144)
  • “What kind of feedback did he give you on your reviews?” (Location 1146)
  • “What about informally? What did he tell you in passing?” (Location 1148)
  • “Well, what do you think he told others when he talked about you behind your back in his office, maybe to the board?” (Location 1149)
  • The second part of the fourth question—“How would you rate the team you inherited?”—is applicable to managers. The focus here is on how candidates approach building a strong team. Do they accept the hand they have been dealt when they inherit a new team, or do they make changes to get a better hand? What changes do they make? How long does it take? As a bonus, use the TORC framework on their team. You can ask, “When we speak with members of your team, what will they say were your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a manager?” (Location 1157)
  • Why did you leave that job? (Location 1162)
  • Were the candidates for your position promoted, recruited, or fired from each job along their career progression? Were they taking the next step in their career or running from something? How did they feel about it? How did their boss react to the news? (Location 1163)
  • A Players are highly valued by their bosses. B and C Players often are not. It is an important piece of the puzzle to figure out if somebody decided to leave a job after being successful (an A Player clue) or whether he or she was pushed out of a job by a boss who did not value their contribution (a B or C Player clue). (Location 1165)
  • CONDUCTING AN EFFECTIVE WHO INTERVIEW (Location 1204)
  • We can’t stress this enough: the order is important. Don’t start at the most recent job and work backward. Candidates can’t think clearly that way. Instead, walk through the career history chronologically—as the events really happened. Candidates will settle into telling you their story, and you will get to hear the narrative of their work life unfolding. (Location 1212)
  • The Who Interview takes three hours on average to conduct. It might take five hours for CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies, or ninety minutes for entry-level positions. (Location 1215)
  • The length of the interview will help you in two ways initially. First, it will encourage you to get really good at the screening interview so you are able to spend most of your time with the best candidates. Second, it will enable you to reduce your hiring failure rate by such a wide margin that you will never hire another person again without using this methodology. (Location 1217)
  • you, the hiring manager (or board member if you are hiring a CEO), will want to conduct the Who Interview yourself. You own the hire. You will suffer the consequences of making a mistake. Your career and job happiness depend on finding A Players. (Location 1221)
  • we also recommend that you conduct the Who Interview with a colleague—perhaps someone from HR, another manager or member of your team, or simply someone who wants to learn the method by observing you. (Location 1224)
  • Here’s a simple script that you can use to set the stage. Thank you for taking the time to visit us today. As we have already discussed, we are going to do a chronological interview to walk through each job you have held. For each job I am going to ask you five core questions: What were you hired to do? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What were some low points during that job? Who were the people you worked with? Why did you leave that job? At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask me questions. (Location 1230)
  • Eighty percent of the process is in this room, but if we mutually decide to continue, we will conduct reference calls to complete the process. Finally, while this sounds like a lengthy interview, it will go remarkably fast. I want to make sure you have the opportunity to share your full story, so it is my job to guide the pace of the discussion. Sometimes, we’ll go into more depth in a period of your career. Other times, I will ask that we move on to the next topic. I’ll try to make sure we leave plenty of time to cover your most recent, and frankly, most relevant jobs. Do you have any questions about the process? (Location 1235)
  • MASTER TACTICS (Location 1243)
  • Master Tactic #1: Interrupting (Location 1248)
  • The good way to interrupt somebody is to smile broadly, match their enthusiasm level, and use reflective listening to get them to stop talking without demoralizing them. You say, “Wow! It sounds like that pig farm next to the corporate office smelled horrible!” The candidate nods and says “Yes!” and appreciates your empathy and respect. Then you immediately say, “You were just telling me about launching that direct mail campaign. I’d love to hear what was that like? How well did it go?” (Location 1257)
  • It is through maintaining very high rapport that you get the most valuable data, and polite interrupting can build that rapport. (Location 1263)
  • Master Tactic #2: The Three P’s (Location 1265)
  • The three P’s are questions you can use to clarify how valuable an accomplishment was in any context. The questions are: (Location 1266)
  • 1. How did your performance compare to the previous year’s performance? (For example, this person achieved sales of $2 million and the previous year’s sales were only $150,000.) 2. How did your performance compare to the plan? (For example, this person sold $2 million and the plan was $1.2 million.) 3. How did your performance compare to that of peers? (For example, this person sold $2 million and was ranked first among thirty peers; the next-best performer sold only $750,000.) (Location 1267)
  • Master Tactic #3: Push Versus Pull (Location 1273)
  • Do not hire anybody who has been pushed out of 20 percent or more of their jobs. (Location 1274)
  • 1. Push. “It was mutual.” “It was time for me to leave.” “My boss and I were not getting along.” “Judy got promoted and I did not.” “My role shrank.” “I missed my number and was told I was on thin ice.” “I slapped the CEO so hard that I lost my $3 million severance package.” 2. Pull. “My biggest client hired me.” “My old boss recruited me to a bigger job.” “The CEO asked me to take a double promotion.” “A former peer went to a competitor and referred me to his boss.” (Location 1277)
  • Master Tactic #4: Painting a Picture (Location 1282)
  • Ted Bililies, a managing director at ghSMART, calls this ability “empathic (Location 1284)
  • imagination.” Empathic imagination helps you move away from generic answers that don’t mean anything and toward specific details that give you real insight. (Location 1284)
  • Master Tactic #5: Stopping at the Stop Signs (Location 1292)
  • watch for shifts in body language and other inconsistencies. (Location 1293)
  • THE FOCUSED INTERVIEW: GETTING TO KNOW MORE (Location 1300)
  • we recommend one more step, the focused interview, which is leg three of the “Select” step of the ghSMART A Method for Hiring. Focused interviews allow you to gather additional, specific information about your candidate. In essence, you are turning the magnification up another notch so you can give would-be hires one last look with a finer degree of granularity. (Location 1303)
  • These interviews also offer a chance to involve other team members directly in the hiring process. We think there’s great value in that, but a few cautions first. Be sure to emphasize to your team that this is not meant to be another Who Interview. One time through a candidate’s full story is enough. (Location 1306)
  • Each interview should take forty-five minutes to one hour, depending on how many outcomes and competencies you assign to each interviewer. Regardless of the time spent, each interviewer will bring supplemental data to your decision-making process. (Location 1334)
  • Focused interviews also give you a final gauge on the cultural fit that so many of our CEOs and other business leaders cited as critical to the hiring process. Just be sure to include competencies and outcomes that go beyond the specifics of the job to embrace the larger values of your company. (Location 1337)
  • The hiring manager makes a go/no-go decision at the end of the meeting regarding whether to conduct reference calls or terminate the process. (Location 1369)
  • THE REFERENCE INTERVIEW: TESTING (Location 1371)
  • WHAT YOU LEARNED (Location 1371)
  • There are three things you have to do to have successful reference interviews. (Location 1386)
  • First, pick the right references. Review your notes from the Who Interview and pick the bosses, peers, and subordinates with whom you would like to speak. Don’t just use the reference list the candidate gives you. (Location 1386)
  • Second, ask the candidate to contact the references to set up the calls. Some companies have a policy that prevents employees from serving as references. You may hit that brick wall if you call a reference directly, but we have found that you will have twice the chance of actually getting to talk to a reference if you ask the candidate to set up the interview—whether it is during business hours or after hours at home. (Location 1388)
  • Third, conduct the right number of reference interviews. We recommend that you personally do about four and ask your colleagues to do three, for a total of seven reference interviews. Interview three past bosses, two peers or customers, and two subordinates. (Location 1391)
  • The first question is really a conversation starter and memory jogger. (Location 1397)
  • Note: In what context did you work with the person?
  • Note: 2) what were the person's greatest strengths? 3) What was the person's biggest area for improvement back then?
  • ask for multiple examples to help you put strengths and development areas into context. (Location 1400)
  • The third question is even more powerful when you add the phrase “back then” to the end of the question: “What were the person’s biggest areas for improvement back then?” These two words liberate a reference to talk about weaknesses that existed in the past. (Location 1401)
  • Next, ask the reference to rate the candidate on a 1–10 scale. The rating itself is interesting. (Location 1406)
  • Additionally, how does the rating compare to what the candidate said in the screening interview? Wide discrepancies are alarming. (Location 1407)
  • The last question allows you to use the information from the TORC (threat of reference check) section of the Who Interview. Test something the candidate told you by framing it as a question for the reference. For example, “The person mentioned that you might say he was disorganized. Can you tell me more about that?” (Location 1411)
  • Again, the phrasing is important. “You might say” suggests to the reference that she has permission to talk about the subject because the candidate raised it. (Location 1413)
  • Avoid accepting a candidate’s reference list at face value (Location 1425)
  • References from your own network offer yet another avenue for gathering objective, unbiased data. (Location 1430)
  • Hearing or understanding the code for risky candidates (Location 1445)
  • You can be fairly certain references are speaking in code when they qualify a response with the same “if…then” formulation (Location 1463)
  • Um’s and er’s are another code for unspoken problems. Robert Hurst described this as “the reference who hesitates with the tough question.” When you ask, “How did so-and-so do?” you want to hear tremendous enthusiasm, not um’s and er’s and carefully chosen words. (Location 1465)
  • Lukewarm or qualified praise also is likely to signal ambivalence or worse about a candidate. (Location 1470)
  • A truly positive reference, by contrast, should brim with tremendous enthusiasm and obvious admiration. It will lack hesitation and hedging. (Location 1473)
  • DECIDE WHO TO HIRE (Location 1476)
  • When you believe there is a 90 percent or better chance the candidate can (Location 1484)
  • achieve an outcome based on the data you gathered during the interview, rate him or her an A for that outcome. (Location 1485)
  • When the data does not support that conclusion, give the candidate a lower rating for that outcome, such as a B or C. Repeat this process for each outcome. (Location 1486)
  • table. For each competency, ask yourself the same question as before. Does the data suggest there is a 90 percent or better chance that the candidate will display that competency? (Location 1488)
  • An A Player is someone whose skill and will match your scorecard. (Location 1491)
  • How will you know when you have hit the skill-will bull’s eye? When (1) you are 90 percent or more confident that a candidate can get the job done because his or her skills match the outcomes on you scorecard, and (2) you are 90 percent or more confident that the candidate will be a good fit because his or her will matches the mission and competencies of the role. (Location 1492)
  • RED FLAGS: WHEN TO DIVE BENEATH THE SURFACE (Location 1495)
  • The flags themselves are not the deal killers, but they are likely to signal that there is something worth exploring beneath the surface. (Location 1497)
  • Based on our experience, the major flags during the hiring process include: • Candidate does not mention past failures. • Candidate exaggerates his or her answers. • Candidate takes credit for the work of others. • Candidate speaks poorly of past bosses. • Candidate cannot explain job moves. • People most important to candidate are unsupportive of change. • For managerial hires, candidate has never had to hire or fire anybody. • Candidate seems more interested in compensation and benefits than in the job itself. • Candidate tries too hard to look like an expert. • Candidate is self-absorbed. (Location 1498)
  • Marshall Goldsmith, (Location 1513)
  • history. In his bestseller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Goldsmith identifies twenty behavioral (Location 1514)
  • derailers that can hurt an executive’s career. When we asked him which of those derailers to consider during the hiring process, he offered this list. (Location 1514)
  • “Winning too much. I would look out for people in the hiring process who boast about winning battles that do not matter that much. (Location 1516)
  • “Adding too much value is easy to look for. If you are talking and you throw out an idea, does the candidate try to add too many of his own ideas to yours? (Location 1520)
  • “Starting a sentence with ‘no,’ ‘but,’ or ‘however’ during the interview process. (Location 1523)
  • “Telling the world how smart we are. The unhealthy display is taking excessive credit, especially for a leadership role. (Location 1525)
  • “Making destructive comments about previous colleagues is a huge red flag. (Location 1527)
  • “Passing the buck. Blaming is always bad. Winners don’t blame. (Location 1528)
  • “Making excuses. Ask people what their challenges were. If they say that their biggest challenges were not their fault but other people’s fault, that shows they do not take responsibility for their performance. (Location 1529)
  • “The excessive need to ‘be me.’ Listen for comments like ‘That’s just me, I’m not organized.’ ‘That’s just me, I’m impatient.’ ‘That’s just me, I don’t include other people in decisions. That’s just the way I am.’ Beware. (Location 1531)
  • HOW TO SELECT AN A PLAYER 1. SCREENING INTERVIEW: Conduct a twenty- to thirty-minute screening interview, using the four key questions. Probe for more information by using the “What? How? Tell me more” framework. Filter out obvious B and C Players from your hiring pipeline. 2. WHO INTERVIEW: Conduct a Who Interview of one and a half to three hours by walking chronologically through a candidate’s career, using the same five questions for each job or chapter in the person’s work history. The hiring manager and one other colleague should conduct the interview in tandem. 3. FOCUSED INVERVIEW(S): Involve others in the hiring process by assigning team members to conduct interviews that focus on the outcomes and/or competencies on the scorecard. 4. CANDIDATE DISCUSSION: Following each day of interviews, grade the scorecard using the skill-will framework. Advance those whose skill (what they are fundamentally good at doing) and will (what they want to do, and in what type of culture) match the mission, outcomes, and competencies on your scorecard. Look for people whom you would rate an A on the critical outcomes and key competencies. Nobody is perfect, but seek those who are strong in the most important places of your scorecard. 5. REFERENCE INTERVIEW: Conduct seven reference calls with people you choose from the Who Interview. Ask the candidate to set up the calls to break through the gatekeepers while minimizing your own effort. 6. FINAL DECISION: Repeat your analysis of the skill-will profile to ensure you still have a bull’s-eye. (Location 1551)
  • Most managers fail to sell a candidate. (Location 1571)
  • The five areas, which we call the five F’s of selling, are: fit, family, freedom, fortune, and fun. (Location 1577)
  • • Fit ties together the company’s vision, needs, and culture with the candidate’s goals, strengths, and values. “Here is where we are going as a company. Here is how you fit in.” • Family takes into account the broader trauma of changing jobs. “What can we do to make this change as easy as possible for your family?” • Freedom is the autonomy the candidate will have to make his or her own decisions. “I will give you ample freedom to make decisions, and I will not micromanage you.” • Fortune reflects the stability of your company and the overall financial upside. “If you accomplish your objectives, you will likely make [compensation amount] over the next five years.” • Fun describes the work environment and personal relationships the candidate will make. (Location 1578)
  • SELLING FIT (Location 1587)
  • Fit is by far the most important point to sell. Just as you are looking for a person who can be an A Player in a role, so the best candidates are looking for roles where they can be A Players. The better the fit, the higher the likelihood of success. Selling fit helps A Players see what you have already learned by going through the A Method. (Location 1588)
  • Mark Stone is a senior managing director of the Gores Group. (Location 1597)
  • “Show that you are as concerned with the fit for them as you are in the fit for you. Ninety-nine percent of your competitors are not doing that. It is a key differentiator. You will be the one who cares enough to see if there is something for them here. Everybody else is concerned with just finding out if there is a match for us here.” (Location 1598)
  • SELLING FAMILY (Location 1613)
  • “During nearly every conversation I had with Greg, I asked, ‘How is your wife feeling about this? How excited are your kids to live in Denver?’” (Location 1629)
  • SELLING FREEDOM (Location 1664)
  • A Players have never liked being micromanaged. It runs against their grain—the inherent characteristics that make them standouts in the first place. (Location 1665)
  • SELLING FORTUNE (Location 1696)
  • SELLING FUN (Location 1721)
  • FIVE WAVES OF SELLING (Location 1740)
  • The waves are: 1. When you source 2. When you interview 3. The time between your offer and the candidate’s acceptance 4. The time between the candidate’s acceptance and his or her first day 5. The new hire’s first one hundred days on the job (Location 1747)
  • The question time at the end is when you put on your sales hat, assuming you still see potential in the candidate. By paying attention to what the candidate says during the interview, you’ll have a clearer idea how to frame the offer that ultimately will attract that person to your company. (Location 1760)
  • The third opportunity to sell falls between your offer and their acceptance. Too often, managers back away at this point, on the mistaken notion that prospective hires “need time to think about it.” They might well need time, but this is likely to have been a prolonged courtship. Backing too far away at this point can feel a lot like a cold shoulder, as George Buckley found out when the board of directors recruited him to become the CEO of 3M. (Location 1766)
  • We suggest celebrating their acceptance by sending something meaningful, such as flowers, balloons, or a gift certificate. Make a splash. Continue to stay in touch. Keep listening for concerns related to the five F’s and address them as soon as they come up. (Location 1786)
  • Research shows an alarming failure rate among new hires in the first one hundred days. People get buyer’s remorse during these early months and are tempted to cut their losses. You can mitigate that risk by investing in a strong on-boarding program. That entails more than just a welcome lunch and short orientation given by the HR department. You, the hiring manager or board member, have to make sure your new A Player has every opportunity to succeed. (Location 1795)
  • PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF (Location 1804)
  • A seasoned executive once asked us what we thought was the single most important aspect to selling a candidate on joining a company. (Location 1804)
  • persistence. (Location 1806)
  • HOW TO SELL A PLAYERS 1. Identify which of the five F’s really matter to the candidate: fit, family, freedom, fortune, or fun. 2. Create and execute a plan to address the relevant F’s during the five waves of selling: during sourcing, during interviews, between offer and acceptance, between acceptance and the first day, and during the first one hundred days on the job. 3. Be persistent. Don’t give up until you have your A Player on board. (Location 1835)
  • HOW TO INSTALL THE A METHOD FOR HIRING IN YOUR COMPANY (Location 1867)
  • You have to do ten things if you want to install the A Method for Hiring in your business: (Location 1867)
  • 1. Make people a top priority. The leaders we interviewed for this book told us they spend as much as 60 percent of their time thinking about people. By making it one of your top three priorities and communicating the urgency of addressing it, you can prevent your team from… (Location 1869)
  • 2. Follow the A Method yourself. Great leaders don’t tell people what to do. They lead by example. That gives them the… (Location 1872)
  • 3. Build support among your executive team or peers. Leaders gain momentum by engaging everybody on their… (Location 1873)
  • 4. Cast a clear vision for the organization and reinforce it through every communication with the broader team. Try a message like “We are going to win with A Players,” “We will succeed because we have an A Player in every role,” or “Our people will serve our customers far better than the competition because our people are all A Players.”… (Location 1876)
  • 5. Train your team on best practices. Leaders ensure every manager on the team has the skills required to execute the A Method by helping them learn each step. A hands-on workshop demystifies the… (Location 1880)
  • 6. Remove barriers that impede success. Leaders who want to be A Players in charge of teams full of other A Players work with HR to eliminate any policy, standard, or practice that gets in… (Location 1882)
  • 7. Implement new policies that support the change. Leaders know that all of the communication in the world won’t motivate some members of the team, so they put a few simple policies in… (Location 1885)
  • • They place the following outcome on every manager’s scorecard: “Achieve a hiring success rate of 90 percent or greater. Build and retain a team composed of 90 percent or more A Players by a certain date.” • They require a scorecard for every job requisition. No scorecard, no requisition. Managers who want help from the company’s recruiting team need to provide a scorecard to get support. • They require a Who Interview and rated scorecard before an offer can… (Location 1887)
  • 8. Recognize and reward those who use the method and achieve results. Captains of industry are always on the lookout for evidence that people are using the A Method, and they publicly recognize those who do. They also reward managers who achieve a 90 percent or better hiring success rate… (Location 1893)
  • 9. Remove managers who are not on board. Captains short-circuit any potential for mutiny by removing those who refuse to build a better team using the method. Of course, they give people every opportunity to succeed before they make this decision, but they do not… (Location 1896)
  • 10. Celebrate wins and plan for more change. The best leaders celebrate their team’s success by offering tangible rewards, such as a fancy dinner, a team event, or even a nice gift. They use the goodwill generated by this recognition to inspire more action in the next year. Never satisfied, they seek new and better ways to… (Location 1899)
  • not every tide rises the same way. Some surge. Some creep slowly and steadily. While the A Players you bring in need to be attuned to your culture, the culture needs enough elasticity to embrace the A Players who can challenge you in areas where you need to be challenged. (Location 1977)
  • Boards and investors have a tendency to invest in CEOs who demonstrate openness to feedback, possess great listening skills, and treat people with respect. These are executives who have mastered the soft skills. We call them “Lambs” because these CEOs tend to graze in circles, feeding on the feedback and direction of others. Boards love Lambs because they are so easy to work with, and in fact, in our study Lambs were successful 57 percent of the time. That is not a bad success rate. A batter who hit .570 over a career could walk backward into the Hall of Fame. (Location 2011)
  • The second dominant profile that emerged from our analysis was of CEOs who move quickly, act aggressively, work hard, demonstrate persistence, and set high standards and hold people accountable to them. We call these CEOs “Cheetahs” because they are fast and focused. Cheetahs in our study were successful 100 percent of the time. This is not a rounding error. Every single one of them created significant value for their investors. (Location 2017)
  • Should you always want to be a Cheetah, or do you always want to hire a Cheetah? No. But if you have the choice to be or hire somebody who errs on the side of being too fast and focused versus being slow and extremely collaborative, we recommend going with the fast and focused option. In this fast-paced age of business in which we all exist, it appears that speed and focus really count when it comes to delivering great financial results. (Location 2047)
  • The scorecard changes the higher somebody climbs in an organization, which means how you think about a person’s capabilities must change. Applying the A Method, and in particular the scorecard and select portions of the method, will enable you to focus development resources on the right actions, and to promote people who will succeed in their new positions. (Location 2057)


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