As a general rule, people hire and promote themselves. This can be a positive or a problem.

The best leaders hire up. The worst leaders hire down. The mediocre leaders hire more mediocrity.

Remember, the new hire could be promoted one day. If you want excellence and integrity in your leadership, you have to hire all employees for excellence and integrity. 

 Hire slow. Obtain a lot of information about them. Have a lot of interaction with the potential team member. Have them interact with plenty of members of your team. Never have an interview panel of only those close to retirement. Give them things to do during a second interview and see how they perform – everyone can talk – not everyone can execute (e.g. real world problem-solving).

Identify where your best hires came from and where your worst hires originated. Compare expectations at hiring with actual performance over time. Use onboarding to successfully integrate them into the culture and team. Pay close attention to key themes from them during initial interviews, onboarding, evaluations, and exit interviews. Always be learning what’s working and what’s not.

Employ policies and procedures to attract and retain the right talent. Standardize to best practices. Pay attention to the policies and procedures of other employers competing for the same talent with you.  Study what’s working and what’s not.  

 If policies and procedures are operating as obstacles, you need to change them. For example, in academia, it might take 9-12 months to hire a faculty member. No talented individual with options will wait that long. How may practices do you think Tom Brady had to play before Tampa Bay hired him? Winners won’t wait and they always have other options so pay attention to time to hire. Strike the right balance between getting everything you need to know to decide with respecting the time and interests of a quality applicant. 

All you care about is hiring performance and integrity.

Hire who you need for success on mission, goals, and objectives. 

Hire for objective reasons (e.g. proven performance) and never for subjective influences (e.g. friends, ego, emotion).    

Hire for culture. No matter how talented they are, they cannot be hired if they can’t fit the culture.  

Hire character, teach subjects, and strengthen skills. Hire for tomorrow not yesterday. Hire up.   

You’ll never make a more important decision than who you hire.     


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training

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