In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins encourages business owners to get the right people on the right bus and in the right seats. He also encourages us to get the wrong people off the bus entirely. I like this concept because it’s about people – not positions. It’s also about making sure people are strategically placed in your organization. If your sales guy is better at managing than selling – play to those strengths. If your customer service manager has a talent for consultative selling – give her some sales training and let her out.
If you’re looking for an IT person, of course he/she needs to have a strong background in computer systems. If you’re looking for a bookkeeper, the right person needs to at least understand the difference between debits and credits. There are many positions; however, where I see business owners placing too much emphasis on formal education and past experience and too little on whether the individual is a good person or not. Many times, we should hire the right person and then teach them the skills they need.
Consider what you value most in an employee: A strong work ethic? Trustworthiness? Loyalty? Those are traits that are developed and proven over many years; they can certainly be acquired - but not quickly. If that person possesses the requisite intelligence, they can likely be trained to perform the skill or skills you require. Take a trustworthy, considerate, and friendly person who has little work experience. Can you teach him/her how to sell? Probably so. How to be effective on the phone? Sure. How to manage and lead? Resolve conflict? Absolutely. People may not be born with these skills, but they can be taught. Let’s look at the flip side. You are considering hiring someone with loads of experience but without the values your company holds dear. What will your prospects, customers, and the general public see in him? What about the person who has been in customer service for years. Will she show up on time? It’s difficult to answer those questions by looking at one’s work experience alone. You must also consider their character.
As Jim Collins says, the difference between a good company and great company is its people. Experience alone does not make one the right fit. It certainly helps, but it’s far from everything.