There was a time when from Boy to Man I would get my Superhero Fix by spending huge amounts of money on Marvel and DC comics,(and other Publishers,) marvelling at the exploits of Superman, Batman, Spider-man, The Uncanny X-Men (especially ‘The Dark Phoenix Saga’ that ran for more than a year,) and The ‘New’ Teen Titans. The list of titles I read I could reel off all the way into Infinity. Let’s just say I was big comic book fan back in the day. Real big.
How things have changed. You switch on the TV, feel like going to see a movie or searching the movie channels and lo and behold…There is a Superhero movie on. Given the expense of buying comics these days (they are no longer ‘Pulp Fiction’,) one would be better off writing and publishing their own comics or (if you are like me and lazy,) you get your fix via the movies and TV shows. As the Avengers/Avengers Assembled Movie made more than a Billion Dollars world-wide, you can bet your bottom dollar, there will be more and more Superhero movies coming our way.
Never one to be left out in the cold, I imagine that as my interests (business and personal,) expands over the coming years, I will have need of the services of a superhero or few. I got tired of past employers from another life, expecting the unrealistic, such as: –
- Thinking I don’t have a home or family to go to at the end of the day
- Expecting me to work all the hours God sends, in addition to the above
- Expect miracles based on what they paid me
- That I don’t have a personal life, hobbies interest or a life etc.
- Expecting me to live and breathe the company and do nothing else…Come on!
- Expect all of the above and I am not a company director.
If Peter Parker had ever worked for some of the people I worked for during my teenage years right up to my late thirties, he would think J. Jonah Jameson was akin to St. Francis of Assisi. And he would not even have time to get bitten by radioactive/genetically enhanced spider, simply because he would be working for ‘Matthew & Son’ type employers so could never go on a field trip to a lab or anywhere else.
Now if I were Peter’s Employer, Clark’s, Diana’s or Hal’s, I would be far more understanding, if they needed time out, due to personal reasons. They would be aware that as a team we would need to consider the needs of the business but not to the exclusion and price of not having a life.
Look, it is like this. If there is one business discipline that defines success, it would be the ability to hire great talent. Peter, Clark, Diana, John and Hal for example, are all great talents in their own right. The right person can help me launch my company to new heights, while the wrong person can do the complete opposite and probably single-handedly undo all my hard work and effort. And yes, I have had agents like that; ones who mis-represented me, rather than representing me so know the above experience all too well.
Is my hiring practice going to be strategic, thorough and above all, consistent? Hmmm. Good question. Let’s consider a ‘Ten Step Plan’ that hopefully will ensure I am bringing onboard, only the best and the brightest.
My Ten Step Plan
- Remember I am hiring for a ‘Team’. Bringing just one new person onto a team can and will dramatically change the culture of the entire organisation, not to mention the entire organisation is counting on Yours Truly to do it right. Note: My standards are not what I am looking for. My standards are what you accept. Am I really willing to accept this person into my culture? My Organisation?
- Begin recruiting before I need to hire. The time to look for new talent is long before a gaping hole appears in my Organisation. Looking for new players will be a part of my regular routine, not as a rare exception to the rule. The above is a simple habit that will help me avoid the very dreadful and painful experience of hiring talent that falls below my standards because I did not plan, factor in the time or simply ran out of time because I ran out of time to recruit the next Mick Jagger, David Bowie or in this case, the next Clark, Peter, Diana, John or Hal.
- Encourage and cultivate referrals. My team (if I am doing my job right,) should know how to spot potential Superheroes (or the odd rock star). But if a referral candidate is not an upgrade to my current team, I am passing. Even if that means putting the referring team player’s ‘nose out of joint’.
- Look for a history of success. Check potential employees’ online presence for signs of success in their career or personal life. Don’t look or think of Social Media as a place to find a quick fix but rather, as an opportunity to seek out positive stories from a person’s past. Search for signs of achievement, drive and job-related wins and successes.
- Pre-screen candidates over the telephone. I have lost count of the number of times, when I have recognised within the first couple of minutes of meeting a person that I am never going to work with them, let alone hire them or anything else. I avoid this kind of pain by spending a few minutes talking to people over the telephone before setting up a face-to-face meeting. I don’t do text messaging. It is a lazy way of conversing with someone and if a simple telephone conversation is a struggle on their part, well…I have more important things to do.
- Plan for interview well in advance. I recall the times when I was a Candidate and didn’t plan for an interview or audition – It made me look unorganised and disrespectful. I learned the lessons from those experiences – The hard way. I am not missing out on hiring Superheroes (and a rock star,) because they turned me down because I appeared disorganised and could not care less. I prepare for an interview, the same way that I would expect my candidates to prepare.
- Abandon the usual questions – Don’t bother with the cliché questions. Everyone knows the bog-standard questions and are fully prepared to give you their bog-standard answers – How Boring. Don’t waste valuable time in an interview asking the same boring questions asked in every other interview. Focus on behaviour-based questions that actually relate to the job on offer like: Tell me about a time when you had to…etc., You will get a far better answer and gain some fantastic insight into the person sitting in front you. Make the interview more of a conversation. A good example of this would be a Michael Parkinson type of Interview, which is more conversational and one where you gain a fascinating insight into the person.
- Gain My Team’s consensus. How My Team responds be it positive, negative or neutral, will tell me a great deal about a candidate’s potential fit within the Organisation. If I sense tension even before I hire someone, that might be all the information I need to make a decision.
- Check references. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? You will be amazed how many people skip this Step. The objective key is listening for things you don’t hear (or they don’t say). Should past employers and colleagues don’t speak knowingly and glowingly about a candidate’s work, then keep looking.
- Follow up communications with every candidate. Everyone I interview deserves a follow up telephone or letter. Personally I prefer the direct approach so would call. One can safely assume most candidates experience a fair amount of anxiety in the days after an interview. I am showing them some respect, while protecting my Brand in the marketplace. And I do this by giving them a clear and timely answer.
And that folks is my Ten Step Plan for Hiring My Next Superhero (or Rock Star).