If you want to significantly accelerate your pace, you need to first build the foundation for success. It doesn’t matter what the context is, there are rarely exceptions to this rule.
It most certainly applies to hiring. Hiring is one of the most important things you’ll do to grow your company. But hiring quickly requires intentionally hiring slowly. Almost excruciatingly slowly.
Why is that?
The cost of a bad hire is roughly 10x the benefit of a good hire. The math is simple. Take two or three times as long during the hiring process, and you’ll speed up overall by about 3x.
I’ve worked with an executive coach for almost a year now, and the main thing he’s done is teach me to throw away everything I thought I knew previously about hiring. I’d probably hired more than 100 people before, so that took some doing. Now, though, after forcing myself to submit to his tutelage, I’m seeing several great outcomes:
- I look back at how many of those 100+ hires worked out well and I’m shocked at how bad I was at getting the right people onboard. Ditto for most people around me. It’s so obvious once your eyes are opened: how could we have missed that we were doing terribly at this vital task?
- I now understand exactly why each of my many, many bad hires were bad.
- I see how long it took me to get rid of each of those bad hires. In most cases I did nothing about it and let them leave of their own accord. Some of them needed to be fired immediately. Some of them could have been managed better and could have been great employees despite the bad start.
- I see how not only my bad hiring practices, but also my poor management of people once they got on board, created a culture of sanctioned incompetence and poisoned the environment.
You don’t need to take my word for it. There are lots of people who actually understand how to hire well and have demonstrated success. If you have not yet found Marten Mickos’s new project, School Of Herring, you need to follow that and catch up on past issues ASAP. Marten has a couple of particularly great interviews with Zack Urlocker, too.
Most of the time I don’t like to guard against the downside. I’d rather focus on offensive tactics, building on strength and taking advantage of opportunities. The outcome of doing this is dramatically better than spending a lot of time making sure we don’t slip backwards. But as counterintuitive as it sounds for most people, the way to do that with hiring is exactly to guard against the downside for each individual team member.
You still need to hire for strength, not just lack of weaknesses.1 You still need to drive hard and be aggressive. You just need to hold yourself to a very high standard and don’t take any shortcuts. Hiring is one of those areas where your company can accrue organizational debt at an astonishing rate, and you need to take time to avoid that.
Slow down to go faster. Don’t mess up hiring. It’s one of the truly damaging mistakes you can make in business.
Originally published at Slow Down To Go Faster.
- Credit to Ben Horowitz; see The Hard Thing About Hard Things. [return]