hiring the right people for the right seats

How To Hire the Right People for the Right Seats

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the need to not only get the right people on the bus but also to get the right people in the right seats. By that, he means that you can’t just hire great people and expect them to perform. You also have to put them in roles that match their natural strengths and skills. You have to help set them up for success. Failing to get the right people in the right seats can cause a lot of issues.

Have you ever done the math as to how much a bad hire actually costs you? Not only in terms of tangible, monetary costs (some researchers attest that losing an employee can cost the company 1.5-2 times their annual salary), but also in terms of the intangible costs. Intangibles such as lost clients, poor morale, other lost employees, and your time. What is the soft cost of not being able to spend time with high potential staff because you’re trying to fix a hiring mistake that could have been avoided?

Think about an actual experience you have had involving a bad hire. How much of your time, your energy, and your company’s money did that person suck up? And when you finally did let them go, or they quit, how much more of your time, energy, and money did finding a replacement cost?

The bottom line is that bad hires are expensive.

But, isn’t that just part of running a business?!?!


You don’t have to settle for poor hires. You don’t have to rely on the same odds as a coin flip for getting great people on your team. What would be the impact of increasing your success in hiring from just 50 percent to 60, 70, 80, even 90 percent? How would your life change?

Imagine you have a magic wand for hiring. This magic wand will enable you to find and hire the ideal person for each of the roles at your company. These ideal candidates will love their jobs because they are naturally suited for the challenges. They will understand the expectations of their role and deliver the success outcomes you desire. They will crave direct and honest feedback so they can improve and grow both personally and professionally. They will buy into and work towards accomplishing departmental and company-wide goals.

Does that all sound too good to be true? It’s not. You already have the magic wand. It just needs some fine-tuning. Here are six steps to get you started.

Step 1: Adjust your mindset.

What are some limiting beliefs you have about hiring?

  • I don’t have the time.
  • Who’s going to do the work of the unfilled position while I am hiring a replacement?
  • I am still no better than a coin flip no matter what I try.
  • There is no talent out there. You should see who applies.
  • Better the devil I know.
  • Firing someone is so hard. I just hate it.

To be more successful you have to wipe your mental slate clean. Throw out your negative attitude about hiring and develop and positive one.

What are the elements of a positive mindset about hiring?

  • I can define, find, and hire the talent I need.
  • I accomplish my goals through my team.
  • Making a change is sometimes necessary and I know I can upgrade my team’s talent by doing so.
  • It is my responsibility to hire the best talent and I know I can do it.
  • I am great at hiring.
  • This is a skill that will advance my career and that I can use anywhere.

Step 2: Understand that hiring is a process.

If you take nothing else from reading this article, imprint these four words in your memory: Hiring Is A Process. It is not an event. Repeat these four words every time you make a hire.

It may be a slower approach than you’re used to, but it has to be. This is not a decision that you should rush. You must take your time to ensure you are hiring properly.

Following a set process for every hire will do two things, help you make better hires with fewer mistakes and help you correct any mistakes that you do make – and you will make some, you’re human. Trusting the process will cut the length of time that you will tolerate a bad hire. You’ll know you’ve made a mistake almost immediately and be able to correct it quickly. The ability to fire fast is very important to your success. Poor performing employees create an air of Sanctioned Incompetence in your company. This creates disengagement in others and you cannot afford to tolerate it.

Step 3: Follow the process.

Once you’ve developed a process for improving your success when hiring, stick to it. Don’t skip any part of the process. Make it company policy. Know and trust it. Above all, FOLLOW it. Gino Wickman uses the abbreviation FBA in his book Traction, processes need to be Followed By All. If everyone follows it, it works.

It takes work to hire great talent. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. There are no short cuts. Many, many managers hate following a set hiring process when we start to work with them. They simply want to get it over and done with. But, as a manager, there is no greater responsibility than hiring the right talent. Not only will hiring well make your job easier, it will also ensure that the company keeps hitting its goals. Follow the process, and you’ll get the right person.

Step 4: Be objective.

An important component of a good hiring mindset is to remain neutral. Let the facts speak for themselves. Being neutral allows you to see all of the pluses and minuses of a candidate. And there will be minuses, no one is perfect. If you are not seeing any negatives, you are not doing your job.

You will be collecting a lot of data as a part of every hire. You’ll glean information from their resume, their employment history, their cover letter, their references, their interviews and their behavioral and motivational assessments. All these components will tell you a story. Your job is to stay neutral and really read what that story is telling you in order to make a great hiring decision.

It’s easier than you think to slip out of objectivity. We all have prejudices. We are most comfortable with people that act and behave as we do. We are quicker to trust people who have the same beliefs as ourselves. To hire well, you have to know yourself well so that you can neutralize your natural biases. Being able to hear what the candidates are actually telling you, and not just listening for what you want to hear, will enable you to match the right person to your open position.

Step 5: Define what you need.

How many different kinds of hammers can you name?

If you want to break up a sidewalk, what type of hammer should you use?

If you’re framing a house, what hammer should you use?

How about when making a picture frame? Fighting a battle? Tearing down a wall?

Is any hammer right for any job?

NO! Obviously not.

Is any person right for any job?

NO! People are even more varied than hammers, so make sure you get the right one.

Just like you can’t pick which hammer you need to use until you know what job you need to complete, you can’t pick the right candidate for a role until you’ve defined that role!

This first step in the hiring process is the most important. It sets the foundation for not only a good hire but also for a great team member. Make sure all of the roles at your company are defined.

Defining what you need from each role at the organization is the foundation for a successful company. Not only will you hire employees that are great matches to their roles, but you’ll also be able to better engage those new employees in their roles because they know exactly what is expected of them.

COMPETITIVE INSIGHT: Most companies skip this step or do not spend enough time on it. They assume everyone understands the role and then they hire people they like or who they think are good for the role. You will automatically start outperforming your competitors just by defining roles well.

Step 6: Match candidates to that definition.

When I said that defining the role was the most important step in making a great hire. I meant it. Every other step hinges on that definition.

Your job is to make sure that once you’ve defined the role for which you are hiring you find the best match possible.

There are a multitude of ways to go about making sure someone is the right fit for a role. You can read resumes, call references, hold interviews, use behavioral assessments, and run background checks. Whichever tools you decide to use to better understand your candidates, make sure that you’re staying objective and letting the data speak for itself.

You already have the power to hire the right people for the right seats. And by taking these six important steps you can start to make it happen.

Eure Consulting