Don’t be Afraid to Hire a Gun!!

Man doing physical labour

There is an awful lot of talk these days


There is an awful lot of talk these days about the need to rate your workforce from 100 (the top performer) to 1 (the worst performer) each year and then routinely “cull” the bottom 20%. I personally think that the management gurus who promote this kind of practise need to be taken aside and given a serious talking too! The client companies who indiscriminately adopt such practises aren’t much better and probably don’t deserve to have any employees.

The reality is, the only reason you enjoy fine French Champagne is that you know the difference between it and your $10 bottle of cheap and cheerful. The delight that comes from driving one of the worlds premier motor vehicles is so much sweeter if you once owned something that struggled to get up a slight hill in 3rd gear, had cracked plastic seats and no air-conditioning.

The point here is that everything in life is relative.

It takes all types to make the world go around and it similarly takes all types to make a business run. Companies that indiscriminately adopt the practise described above demean their people – all of them.

Most of you probably accept this, but we also note that it sometimes causes managers to be scared of hiring someone who is clearly much better than everyone else in their team. At times like this when many businesses are short staffed generally, an absolute stand-out employee can really make a big difference.

The issue becomes one of management.

The article below tackles this subject and is based on one I spotted in the Electronic Recruiting Exchange as written by Dr John Sullivan. John is a frequent speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms. He is now professor of management at San Francisco State University. He was called the “Michael Jordan of Hiring” by “Fast Company” Magazine.

It is vitally important to treat every employee with respect and dignity but the allocation of management resources must be focussed on those individuals who have the highest impact (shareholders expect no less).

If this was a great golf team and your job was cleaning the golf balls, you would know right away that your position was important, it had significantly lower impact than the work of Tiger Woods, your lead golfer.

Similarly if you were the third string guard behind Michael Jordan, you would realise almost immediately that although you were important, your role was that of a support person, which should not and could not garner you the same number of playing minutes as MJ.

“The HR profession has got into the nasty habit of equating fairness with sameness”

The lesson to be learnt here is that it’s management’s job to educate those in lesser-impact or support positions about the significant impact hiring “game changers” has on every employees job security and organisational performance.

Like it or not, average employees in lower-impact positions to recruit and retain. No organisation can function without the “average-Joe”, but treating top performers exactly the same as average performers will lead top performers to reject your job offers and entertain one of the numerous other offers afforded them.    

Final Thoughts

There is no greater blunder in corporate recruiting then failing to calculate the dollar impact on the business of great versus average recruiting. In direct contrast, in entertainment and in professional sports, recruiters are relative heroes compared to corporate recruiters. Why? Because in these fields, management has integrated the ROI calculation into standard business practices (read the book Moneyball if you want further examples).

As a result, they have made it obvious to fans, managers, owners, and teammates that if you can recruit a Shaq, a Roger Clemens, or a Tiger Woods, you will likely win championships and every player and employee will benefit from that recruiting success.

In fact, the most startling recent demonstration of the value of recruiting came from Major League Baseball, when the Boston Red Sox paid an astonishing $51 million just for the right to recruit a single pitcher from Japan (Daisuke Matsuzaka).

I assure you that if your recruiting organization successfully demonstrates to senior management a significant difference in the dollar impact between average and great recruiting, you will never again be confronted with the silly question of "What is your cost per hire?"