What I Know About Hiring and Firing: Part 2

Following on from the first installment last week, I share my second observation on hiring and firing for founders and CEOs of growth stage companies.

    2.       Recruitment as a core competence

The hiring challenge intensifies as growth accelerates and greater demands are placed on the organisation. The interval between new hires shortens. Hiring is prioritised on the back of success. Key positions must be created and filled. Hires must be on-boarded ahead of projected growth.

A key strategic issue facing all CEOs is determining what competence is ‘core’ and what is ‘peripheral’. Core activities are those that directly contribute to the company’s competitive differentiation. Building capability in these areas translates into a distinctive performance advantage delivered through efficient collective execution. Core capabilities matter, and hiring, along with people development, are the pillars upon which all capability building rests.

Easy to say: hard to do.  Start by seeking out smart practices (This will be the subject of a later blog post). Look at companies that hire well. Ask them how they do it. Non-competing companies will happily share practice. Look at the abundant literature.  Formulate your ideas into an end-to-end process that you feel reflects your culture.

Then start the process of improvement.  Review the process after each hire and keep learning. Source feedback from successful and non-successful candidates, from HR experts, from Board members, and from colleagues.  Ask for feedback or advice and you will generally receive it. Innovate around the process in a way that reflects and develops your values and your culture. Only in this way will a fit-for-purpose process evolve.

Above all, when you get it wrong (and you will), avoid the frequently trod path of blaming the hire. Be self-critical. You hired the person, and if it turns out that there is a mismatch between the person’s capabilities and the demands of the role, then it is your judgement that is in question. You designed the process that generated the data points that informed your judgement. Revisit the process and get value from your failure.

Part 3 of this series will be published next week. To view part 1, click here.