People put it different ways: If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. A
players hire A players and B players hire C players. Hire people who know more than you and get out of their way. The point is, the rule of thumb when it comes to hiring is that you should always hire people who know their jobs better than you know them, because if you’ve hired a bunch of people who know less than you do, you’ve already lost.
Michael Dell was 19 when he started Dell computer, and pretty sure he didn’t know how to run a billion dollar company. So he surrounded himself with the best executives he could find. With his vision and their expertise, they were able to grow the organization to what? Yes, a billion dollar company. Had Dell been insecure, had he been reluctant to hire people wiser and more experienced than he was, Dell Computer probably never would have left the ground. But he had enough confidence in his own intelligence that he saw the experts around him as assets to help build his organization, not as threats to his ego.
A confident, competent, emotionally-intelligent leader knows his strengths and delights in having people around him who can make him even sharper, more knowledgeable, and better-prepared for new challenges that arise. That kind of leader doesn’t sit silently while people talk about something he’s unfamiliar with. He asks a lot of questions. “What is that? How does that work?” He’s constantly learning, growing, using the people around him as a kind of university to expand and deepen his own understanding of his organization, industry, internal operations and culture.
Frequently the reason business owners hire people with less knowledge or experience has more to do with the cost of hiring a real pro rather than hiring someone with fewer qualifications or less talent. The problem is that they rarely consider the opportunity cost. That $20,000 they saved by hiring the B player could cost an annual $100,000 in other areas like turnover, productivity, innovation, lawsuits or poor spending choices.
The same thing that goes for hiring employees, applies to consultants. Hire consultants who are experts in their fields and LISTEN TO THEM! Yes, I just wrote in all caps, pretty much yelling in the written world. Why? It’s a bit personal, of course. HR is what we do, morning, noon and night. This is what any consultant in any field spends her time thinking and reading and talking about. I don’t hire a plumber to come to my house and then tell her how to fix the garbage disposal. If I did, I’d be wasting a lot of money (they get paid by the hour) and she’d want to charge me double.
When it comes time to shift from a consultant to a full-time employee in that capacity, ask the consultant who they recommend or how they would go about hiring their replacements. They won’t be offended. If the consultant is worth his salt, he’ll see even before you do that the time is coming for you to move on and be able to help you smoothly make the transition.
If you’re a business owner and you find yourself protecting your turf, arguing (often) with your experts and making decisions based on a book you read, you’re in trouble. Let other people be smart too. That’s how everybody succeeds.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.