Join Nancy Napier for an in-depth discussion in this video Discipline 1: Finding the best people, part of Building Creative Organizations.
Ask good leaders what keeps them up at night, and the answer is probably hiring the right and best people in a field. And why is hiring the best people from within a discipline or a field so important for creative high performing organizations. For at least three reasons. Put simply, people with high expertise in their fields can learn fast, act fast, and adapt fast. When people know a field or discipline really well, they can build on that knowledge faster and better than those who aren't so good.
This means, they reduce the learning curve for gaining new knowledge. Second, when you put people who are really good in their fields together, they understand and think in ways that can speed their ability to act as a team, whether they're solving a problem or coming up with some new ideas. They don't have to spend a lot of time explaining why they do something, they just do it. Finally, people with deep expertise often adapt fast, because they really know what they're doing.
They can try out new ways of operating, or tackle new problems because they know the basics so well. Also, perhaps one more subtle reason for hiring the best, is that it may encourage a small amount of internal compeition. And that can spur everyone to work even harder to get better. Look at Google. The hiring process is long, thorough, and even once a young person is hired, there's a training program that vets them.
If you don't pass the training, you don't keep the job. Hence, that little bit of internal competition. So, how do the best firms find the best people? Some of the highest performing firms use really deliberate, lengthy processes. Many, like Google, also rely on their own people to attract and refer top people. Referring someone puts an employees credibility on the line, so, of course, they'll be very sure that the recruit is very good.
Next, rigorous and lengthy screening helps. I work with an organization in the healthcare field. It uses multiple screening stages when it hires. This is done in a large part, not only to find the right technical expertise, but also to ensure a cultural fit. First, the recruit has an initial meeting with the firms development officer. Then, the recruit goes through two sets of multiple interviews over several days with people from different areas and levels.
Last, the candidate goes through a sort of live case study of an actual problem that the firm has faced. Then as a final step, the recruit generates creative solutions and presents them to senior executives. This can be grueling. But if a person joins the firm, both sides are pretty sure it's a good fit. Think about your hiring process. Do you try and find the best people in your field? And how do you consider if they will fit into your culture?