Good People


I was lucky enough to have lunch with James Caan recently.  Let’s not get carried away here, he was speaking at a lunch I was at and in fact he turned up after we’d had our lunch.  But still the first sentence is so much more compelling isn’t it?

No matter, the thrust of James’s little speech was that we are all too conservative when hiring staff.  James made his fortune from the recruitment business.  He argued that we all tend to hire for particular roles once we have actual vacancies.  James advocates hiring brilliant people then working out what to do with them, or rather what you can do for each other.  Sometimes you have to take a chance on an unknown – assess the risk and take steps to mitigate it.  By hiring only as and when forced, to a tight job specification we find people who are good at the job on offer but maybe have limited potential and conversely great people get turned away as over qualified – the fear being they will not want to get into the nitty gritty, get bored and just move on.  Certainly I have seen too many businesses that do not create a pipeline of future leaders.

At another similar lunch Richard Reed of Innocent argued that ‘A’ grade leaders and managers hire ‘A’ grade staff and B’s hire C’s.  I’ve often thought that real talents look to hire great people to help them perform.  Weaker performers like to keep control and don’t want the risk of hiring ‘threats’.

All very interesting.  Most of us would worry that we’d be increasing costs by hiring talent with no role or overqualified (and so more expensive) staff.  If you think about the actual risks compared to your overall budget and profit it is usually insignificant.  What’s the upside too? If they deliver more, stop you needing to hire a consultancy now and again or turn out to be perfect for that bigger role that just came free their costs can be easily covered.

On the other side of the coin candidates could take a risk too.  Why not offer to take a short term contract on a lower package to prove your worth?  Offer to do a little consultancy so that you get to know the business before you commit?

So next time you are looking to hire or be hired ask yourself if you are acting like an A or a B.

 Where’d all the good people go?

I’ve been changing channels

I don’t see them on the TV shows

Where’d all the good people go?

We got heaps and heaps of what we sow

 Jack Johnson


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