Jim Collins probably has many claims to fame.  However, he will probably be remembered most for encouraging business owners to get the right people on the bus.  He also said “in the right seat”; but many either skipped over that part of the book, have forgotten that caution, or have just never heard it.

Then, there are those believers, unlike Jim Collins, who want to persuade you that if you have the best people, by default you have the right people.  With each belief comes a different outcome so,  maybe we should talk a little about the perceptions that make the distinction between “the best” and “the right.”.

I often hear people moan and groan that the “best and brightest” have either left the company or just cannot be found in the local marketplace.  When I ask them how they define the best and brightest, the response is usually something along the lines of “You know, the best schools, the highest IQs, the highest grade point average, “that kind of stuff.”  Some organizations are filled with people who have those credentials for example, ENRON (remember their turn of the century scandal?) It’s not always about the highest IQ, best schools and GPAs.

Others who don’t set their sights on the best and brightest ask,  “Why are good people so hard to find?”  In reality, good people are everywhere you look.  The problem is that not all good people are the right people for you or for your organization.  Sometimes, even the good members of your own family may not be the right people for the long term health of your business. 

When you set out on a Talent Treasure Hunt, it helps to know what the treasure looks like.  Here are some suggestions to help you recognize what you’re looking for in terms of the right people:

 • What does the position require in terms of values, beliefs, behaviors, skills, knowledge, and experience? 

Create an image in your mind of the best person you have seen carry out these responsibilities.  This becomes your blueprint for the right person in this particular seat.  The more you stray from the print, the more likely you are to get someone you had not planned on getting.

 • Recruit actively. 

Talk with colleagues, business acquaintances, and others who have access to people similar to the ones you want.  Relying on traditional methods of sourcing will surface those who are available; and they are rarely the ones who turn out to be the “right” people for the job.

 • During the interview, focus on how well the applicant fits your values. 

You can teach the “hard skills” much easier than you can change values, beliefs, and behaviors.  Take the easy way.

 • Only make an offer to people you like.  Notice I said “you like”, not “like you”.  

Getting people into your organization who are all alike cramps your ability to be flexible adaptable to a variety of circumstances.  Hiring people you do not like will give you the cramps. 

If you want to win gold medals for recruiting, follow the advice of Herb Brooks, 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach.  When told he did not have the best people on his final roster, Brooks replied “I don’t want the best ones.  I want the right ones.”

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