When Rameet Chawla told me a story about how he once pursued a new employees for over a year, wining-and-dining them in a bid to tempt them away from their current job, and into Fueled’s ever-growing offices, he stopped me in my tracks.
As a naive and new entrepreneur, I assumed the hiring process involved writing a job description, placing it on a job-site, and then sifting through the many resumes that would no doubt follow (after all, there are a lot of people out there in need of a new job).
For many people and businesses, this is the case.
But as I learned whilst interviewing over 150 people for my book, this is not what successful leaders do.
Successful Leaders DO NOT Wait!
Rameet didn’t build Fueled into one of New York City’s fastest growing agencies by hiring mediocre employees. He searched high-and-low for the best people that would fit the culture he was building.
Sure, some of these people would join via a standard application process.
But many of them already had jobs, so needed a little headhunting. Rameet and his team embraced this, always on the look out for the “right” team members.
It helped Fueled stand out from the crowd, and it’s how other successful leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs build success on top of success (whereas the rest settle for what’s left).
BUT… this wasn’t always the case.
Most people I interviewed told me how they had made previous hiring mistakes, only knowing what they do today after a few of life’s more “harsh” lessons. They earned their stripes through trial and error.
But you don’t have to!
You can learn from their errors so you can taste success today. Sound good?
Great, here are three hiring mistakes all successful leaders NEED to avoid.
Hiring Mistake #1: you forget about the invisible costs…
Another story Rameet told me, revolved around a period when they grew the Fueled sales team.
“This one time, we hired a sales person,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Over a three month period, we lost every lead assigned to them. If you consider the potential income lost, all because we hired a cheaper staff member, it’s huge. We usually convert at 20-30%, and with a standard project creating $50,000 of revenue, the lost opportunity from this one poor hire hit us hard.”
It’s one thing to consider the actual cost of an employee (their salary, computer, car, what it costs to put them in an office, provide them electricity and a phone, and so on…). These tangible costs are easy to calculate. As a leader, you know these costs well.
But when you hire someone, these are not the costs that matter. What matters are the invisible costs they produce, and the money a bad employee leaves on the table (in lost sales, poor morale, bad productivity, and such…). As a successful leader, you need to focus on these invisible costs.
Your job is to find the right person, not any old person.
Speaking of which…
Hiring Mistake #2: you settle for the “easy” hire…
“I remember having a conversation with my business partner once,” Jordan Harbinger told me, as he described a hiring mistake that shocked me (but that I could totally relate to).
“We tried to create a new position for this one guy because he wasn’t good at any role we slotted him into. I remember showering later that day, and thought to myself, ‘Did I really spend thirty minutes figuring out a new role for someone, in order to justify paying him a lot of money?’”
To appreciate this mistake, you must understand that Jordan’s company, ‘The Art of Charm’, began life as a humble podcast. He didn’t predict it’s huge success, nor that courses and live events would grow out of it. So as the podcast organically grew and blossomed into a thriving business, Jordan and his partners had to hire people.
So he did what most new entrepreneurs do; he approached friends, friends of friends, and those he knew.
In itself, hiring a friend is not a mistake. But the moment you settle for the “easy” hire is the moment you make your BIG hiring mistake. As a leader, you are not searching for anyone, but rather the “right” someone.
There is no out-of-the-box solution to what this person looks like. It’s your job to figure it out, and appreciate whether he or she is the perfect new addition to the team you’re building.
Hiring Mistake #3: you become seduced by accolades…
When you own a business that goes head to head with the likes of Etsy, it’s important to stand out and leave a lasting impression. This is why Jon Crawford — the founder of StorEnvy — focussed his initial hiring efforts around building a superstar team.
“I tried to design a company culture built on rockstars,” said Jon. “I intentionally found designers who had their own following and were people of “note”, but quickly realised we weren’t getting anything done. We weren’t releasing anything. We weren’t shipping anything. The reason for this was that we weren’t on the same page, because when you’re a rockstar it’s hard to play a supporting role in someone else’s band.”
As a leader, it’s easy to become seduced by an impressive C.V., background, or previous job. The truth is, you never know how impressive someone will be until they’ve done the job for a while. And although impressive past accolades can be a good indicator, they remain just that: PAST accolades.
The past does not represent your future.
Your job is to build a team for today and tomorrow, so don’t hire someone based on their past accomplishments. Hire them because they are the right person for now (and the direction you’re heading).
As a successful leader, building a team is one of your most important (and toughest) tasks. There is no black-or-white solution, as each team, business, and new-hire needs a specific approach. But by avoiding these three big hiring mistakes, you improve your chances of success.
I know this after interviewing 163 successful people, and if you would like to learn from their own failures (so you don’t have to make them), dive a little deeper by checking out this guide…