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When you’re hiring high performers, don’t make this mistake

Do you remember the A Team?

I don’t know if you watched the A Team like I did. I would rush home after school, finish my homework, and see if I could be done in time to enjoy an episode of the A Team.

In our house, you had to be done with today’s homework, tomorrow’s homework, and any long-term projects before you could even think of turning on a TV. So I didn’t get to watch the show every time it was on.

But I loved the A Team.

What about Leverage? Seen that?

Maybe you never saw the A Team. But maybe you saw a little show that lasted for a few seasons, called Leverage.

It was a show that assembled some “bad” guys who started doing good for people. In my mind, the shows were pretty similar because they were trying to help out someone, and it required a team, and some pretty fun planning.

You know what those teams had in common?

The thing that both shows had in common was that they were team driven. And more importantly, the formula for each was similar in that each person on the team had their own role. They were each unique and different, and brought something new to their team.

That’s a powerful concept that most people assembling high performing teams miss.

Ever hear, “Bring me another Jim. Another one just like you. Do you have a brother Jim?”

Or maybe you’ve heard someone tell you, “Go hire another Rachel. She’s great. Really perfect. Get another just like her.”

I know they’re really saying, we want another high performer. But more often than not, the people interviewing and hiring make a simple mistake.

They try to hire replicas of other high performers, and end up creating a non-performing team.

Hiring High Performers

When it comes to high performers, don’t make the mistake too many people do. Don’t hire to fit a mold.

Don’t hire a bunch of people with the same background. Don’t hire replicas of some of the staff you have already.

Here are my three suggestions:

Hire different kinds of folks. 

One of my best developers graduated with a degree in fine arts – sculpture, specifically. Still one of the most imaginative people ever, who could transform concepts into code because of his ability to work abstractly.

One of my best managers had never been a development director before I hired her. She’d done tons of non-technical roles, but never even considered herself capable of leading developers. Turned out, the level of communication experience she had made her perfect for the role.

And hire for different kinds of roles.

I recently went looking for a team leader for one of my teams and started by saying (to the candidate), “I don’t want you because of your great tech skills. I can hire that elsewhere. I want you for your Starbucks experience managing a store. That level of customer service and team leadership is critical to me.”

When you narrow your vision to what the “perfect” high performer looks like, you’ll miss the high performers in front of you.

Don’t compete for the same people as everyone else.

When you hire a ton of the same kind of person, you limit the kinds of ideas everyone will consider – which limits the creativity and problem solving capacity of your team.

And worst of all, you’ll compete for the very same high performers that everyone else is vying for – and in so doing, drive their price tag up beyond where it’s worth hiring them. And you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

When you hire right – different kinds of people, in different kinds of roles (never fearing to create a completely different kind of role) – you might just end up looking around, smoking a cigar, and saying to yourself, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

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