Book Takeaway Post: Hire Slowly

There’s a reason he always wins the race…

This is the first in a series of posts related to my book Building a Winning Business: 70 Takeaways for Creating a Strong Company during Good and Bad Economic Times.  The first Takeaway is Hire Slowly.  It’s related to a recent Harvard Business Review post on hiring.  The post makes three points:

  1. Always be hiring
  2. It’s more than HR
  3. Hire fast

I agree lock-stock-and-barrel with point #1.  In interviews, a common question for me is “Why are you hiring for this position?” My response is the same, “We’re always hiring.” It’s true.  We’re always hiring top talent.  I also agree on the second point that “It’s more than HR.”

The post suggests managers should actively be involved with hiring and hiring isn’t just the job of HR.  Our managers have a “virtual bench” of candidates.  The virtual bench concept is defined in the book Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People.  In summary, it’s actively seeking out top talent who are happy in their current jobs and not looking to leave.  We stay in touch with these top performers, in one example for more than five years, over lunches and coffee meetings.  We do this because things change… the company they love today could be bought and all of its software development outsourced to India.  Or, the manager they’d follow to the end of the earth ends up leaving the firm under duress and they employee now questions the firm and its leaders. I disagree with the last point of the Harvard Business Review post.  Surprisingly, it was at Harvard that I developed this opinion.

The course leading professional service firms led by faculty chair Jay Lorsch repeatedly stressed the opposite… don’t hire fast.  In the course they shared, “Top firms spend an inordinate amount of time in the recruiting process.” As an example, they shared an executive recruiting firm does 25-40 interviews per hire.  25-40 is a lot more than the six steps we run a candidate thru but the goal in a good hiring process is the same:  Make prospects self-select out of the process if they’re not a good fit.  More on this in my next Takeaway-related post.