Three Principles to Avoid Hiring Mistakes

Making a poor staff hire is the one mistake that leaders make that costs them more than any other mistake.

Maybe the toughest thing to nail as a leader is making the right hire. It sounds like it would be really easy but it is anything but.

In this article, I want to focus on just the principles of hiring. Too often we lose clarity because we focus on tactics without first having a good picture of what the key principles are.

Three principles of the hiring process:

  • Create a profile
  • Turn over rocks
  • Set them up for success.

Create a profile

How do you know what to look for if you haven’t defined what you are looking for? There are two parts to the profile. What you are looking for and what you HAVE to avoid. Creating both “this is what we are looking for” list and a “we can’t hire if they have this trait” list is important. Having both clarifies or cements what you are looking for.

Jim Collins, in his book ‘Good To Great’, talks about the importance of getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off. Knowing what your ‘right person’ looks like is critical.

Turn over rocks

Preferably, when you have to make a hire, you already have a person or two who you have been vetting ‘unofficially’ over the past year or two. You are turning over rocks on a few people even though you don’t have an opening.

If you don’t have a candidate in mind, do whatever necessary to find someone who fits your profile, and when you think you have found the right person, turn over some more rocks to make sure.

Going through the process of checking references, interviewing the candidate, and doing research on their background is necessary but doesn’t guarantee a great hire.

So, in short, keep digging, talk to as many people as possible and keep turning over rocks.

PS. This is really hard for AD’s who are trying to keep their search on the down-low.

Set them up for success

You need to do everything in your power to set them up for immediate success. This means being positive to the athletes, support staff, and parents. One guy called this positive gossip. Celebrate the hire around the office, making it a big deal.

Another key is to nail the onboarding processes. Give them every opportunity to succeed. Another key is to bring clarity to his/her responsibilities, the culture of the program (how things are done around here), what they can expect from you, etc.

Making a good hire will save you a lot of time and a lot of money. You will also avoid uneccesary dysfunction on the staff and within your program… and will probably save you a lot of sleepless nights.

**Peter Principle and Bias

Peter Principle: The Peter Principles states that we often promote to a level of incompetence. Meaning, we keep promoting people because they are doing a great job in their current role without doing the hard work of figuring out if they can do the newly promoted role. Just because a person is a great individual contributor, doesn’t mean they will make a great leader.

Be careful of hidden bias’: If you have a bias for energy, great. That is a known bias. But being aware of our blind bias’ is really hard. Having a few trusted people helping you see clearly is really important. Do everything possible not to let bias’ negatively affect the hiring process.

Posted in

Travis Wyckoff

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.