Getting the right people and keeping them is perhaps the single most important task for any company.
According to Peter Drucker, the famed management consultant:
The ability to make good decisions regarding people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage, since very few organizations are good at it.
The toughest decisions in organizations are people decisions – hiring, firing, promotion. etc. These are the decisions that usually receive the least attention and are the hardest to unmake.
According to author Bradford Smart, who wrote, “How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Right People,” the key is to recruit the best people, interview them extensively, coach them extensively and pay well.
Other management hiring experts agree with the general strategies in Smart’s book. Among them:
- Interview lots of candidates. Set up an interview process and don’t fall in love with the first candidate you like. Stick to the regimen.
- Make the interview probing and even difficult. Some companies stage multiple, multi-hour interview sessions. That may or may not be necessary, but the point remains that the process must probe issues like attitude, energy level, integrity and ability to work with your team.
- Check references and do background checks. No matter how well a candidate performs during an interview, there is a chance he or she is simply a good interviewer and not necessarily a great worker. Background checks are important as is diligent checking of references. For some reason, companies often treat the reference stage as a formality instead a true fact-gathering exercise.
- Offer attractive compensation and benefit packages. Talented people have options and your company will do better in the long run with top performers, even if you have to pay them a little more than you’d like. Think of it as a prudent investment because it is.
As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch stated once, “Nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field. All the clever strategies and advanced technologies in the world are not effective without great people to put them to work.”