Heard an excellent interview earlier today. It lasted less than 7 minutes and captured so many great insights into leadership and recruiting. Granted, it was sports talk radio, but the lessons for business are absolutely clear, timely and completely translatable. It was Colin Cowherd interviewing Colorado State coach Jim McElwain. Not too impressive to the average person, however the conversation centered on McElwain’s 4 years working with Nick Saban at Alabama during a stretch when they won 2 National Championships. Regardless of what one feels about sports, college football or Alabama, there is no question Nick Saban is one of the best leaders, recruiters and coaches in any field.
Paraphrasing of course, but these were the main themes when it comes to recruiting:
Recruit to the Position. Know what the role you are recruiting for is, what that role requires, then hold to those requirements. It is a timeless issue in recruiting and the war for talent, people wanting “the best person” for the job, yet having no real handle on what the job is, what it entails, what skills are required, what behaviors it demands, how success is defined, and what role emotional intelligence plays. When a client starts off by saying “let me tell you a bit about the role”, it is a pretty good indicator that the search will go well. However, when it starts with “here is what we want”, it raises concerns. Know what the position requires, then go find the player.
Get them BEFORE they peak. It was the best line in the interview, “don’t want the kid who peaks his sophomore year of high school…we all knew that kid”. Harsh, but true, and frankly the most common pitfall we have seen over the years, companies wanting to go after the person who is already at the height of their profession. Yes, you want the folks who are really good, but you want them to have runway. It is about what they will do, about how the person can continue to grow, improve, learn and develop. If they have hit their ceiling, then the best you can hope for is more of the same. Do not hire someone for what they have done, hire them for what they will do for you in the future. The competition is always working to get better…they will catch and pass those who have plateaued regardless of how good they were.
Have an extensive process that involves multiple people. Do not “fall in love” with a candidate too early and avoid the myopic notion that only one person can truly evaluate talent. Make the interview process extensive and evaluate equally throughout the process. Candidates should get better throughout the interview process. If they start strong and fade, that is a warning sign. If you identify flaws relative to the position requirements, make the call and move on to other candidates. But above all, have multiple people involved, and allow them to give their input.
It is a great interview, and it clearly shows two keys to organizational success – leadership and recruiting. Will visit the leadership piece tomorrow, but for now the lesson is recruiting. Granted, they were talking in the world of college football, but the evaluation of talent is universal. Know what you need, find those who can do what you need when you need it, and then have a team of folks you trust evaluate the talent. Simple really, and clearly one of the reasons Nick Saban is at the top of his field.