Where to Look for Great People

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Hiring and positioning team members well is the starting point for a successful business. I get asked all the time how we’ve been able to grow so successfully for such an extended period of time and it all comes down to people. The next question is usually how we find such great people. In my opinion, hiring great people starts with looking for the right qualities vs. looking for certain experience. Once you decide what qualities are most important to you and your organization, then you can decide where people with those qualities hang out, and go get them.

In 20 years of leadership, I’ve narrowed the qualities I’m looking for in team members down to these few. I want people who are teachable, have a great work ethic, are able to influence others, are humble, and can be held accountable. With those qualities in mind, here’s where I’m going shopping:

  • Referrals from existing team – who better to bring in more superstars than the ones already working for you. They are not going to recommend anyone who can’t hack it, because it would make them look bad and also make their job harder. And they’re only going to bring in someone they know would make the organization a better place. They can also tell your organization’s story better than anyone, so they can be your biggest cheerleader. Lastly, one of the toughest things to prepare a new candidate for is how to fit into your culture, and who better to help set the expectations than someone already in it?
  • Leaders in civic organizations – Chambers of commerce, Rotary, etc. are great places to meet prospects. To elevate to a leadership role in these types of groups, typically a person has to be great at communication, organization and relationships. They also have to be good at recruiting people so there is a higher likelihood you’re getting someone with great qualities you can build upon. Just make sure they were held accountable for results and outcomes, and that they were successful in the eyes of their peers.
  • Leaders in non-profits – think about what a leader in a church, ministry or non-profit has to be good at to succeed. They have to be able to inspire others, raise money, recruit/train/manage volunteers, and handle marketing-type functions. They have to be willing to serve others and be humble enough to put themselves behind a greater cause. Managing unpaid volunteers, holding them accountable, and getting results is hard enough. Add all the rest of those responsibilities on top of that and you have a potential superstar.
  • At the gym – you may be curious on this one but think about it. For someone to go the the gym consistently, they have to have made the decision to improve their physical condition and lifestyle, they have to be committed to a process and a work ethic to get the results they want, and they have to be willing to sacrifice something to get it (time, money and comfort zones). I’ll take that all day long on my teams.

There’s a pretty good blueprint of where to look for great people. Let me add one little nugget you might find valuable. When is more important than where. You make better hires when you are proactive. Don’t wait until you have the opening to begin your search. One of the best changes we made in our recruiting process was to make sure our leaders were always interviewing, always asking for resumes, and always on the lookout for great people. We chose to develop a bench of at least 8 people we had interviewed, had been screened by the team, and were “on the sidelines” in case something comes up. It’s so much easier to fill your role with the right person when you have multiple “culture fit” candidates to choose from.  Go back to my very first sentence. You are not just hiring, you’re positioning. And positioning is based on strengths. Having multiple quality candidates ready when you need it will set you up for the best possible scenario and your team will appreciate that you can make a good hire fast. Otherwise they’re having to pull that load while you’re searching. With this approach, everyone wins.

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