Business Eye: You are who you hire – get the A Team

Still in Ibiza; still thinking hard between Mohitos about building a better business.

Sunday, 17th August 2014, 7:30 am
Alex Pratt

The foundation of every business and the rock on which it grows is its team and the culture by which they live and breathe.

Yes, product quality matters, customer service is critical, and efficiency in all matters drives the bottom line, but all of these attributes hinge and stem from individual leadership from within the team.

With a team of 50 trading for 30 years, you would think I’d be an expert at this by now, but I admit to being on a new steep learning curve to finally get this right.

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I now understand that in the end, you are who you hire.

The traditional hiring process starts with a new vacancy for which a job description is hurriedly put together, often pasted from another one, in the margins of an already busy day.

An advert is drafted and posted into the universe into which employed A players rarely descend.

Then we go through 
the voodoo process of thinking we can spot the good ‘uns over a chat about their weakness.

It’s hard to see people for who they really are and it is incredibly difficult to find and get the best from individuals and the team as a whole. Just ask Roy Hodgson.

If you want an A Team, hire A Players, people I’d define as bringing a 90% likelihood of achieving the outcomes that only the top 10% of people might achieve in the role.

The A player is the one who rips through their workload and asks you what else they can do for you.

I have some of these guys in some of my teams, but often they have found me, not the other way around.

For something so critical, it is amazing we can be so amateurish.

We have job descriptions covering roles and responsibilities and all the usual bumf but it has never struck me how obviously important it is when hiring and managing to set 6-8 clear outcomes for the role, to be crystal clear on how the person is to operate by defining the critical competencies, and to check carefully that they will fit with the core team culture.

In every role we all need specialists equipped with the skills, tools and hunger to get the job done, not generalists doing the best they can to not let you down.