‘Who’: The A method for Hiring, by Geoff Smart & Randy Street

31st October 2017

Recommended by Jens Düing

Hiring A players is the single most important ingredient of success in the scale-up phase. At Frog, with decades of combined experience in investing in companies, we’ve seen our fair share of successes and failures. We understand that hiring A players is the holy grail for CEOs, because when recruitment goes wrong, replacing a mis-hire is costly and stressful.

After many years of hiring both managers and direct reports and with an experience-informed approach to recruitment best practice, I had come to accept the rest was largely down to luck. But this thought provoking book has provided me with fresh ideas on how to improve my success rate. I recommend it regularly to portfolio CEOs.

In brief:

Written by two U.S based leadership pioneers, the book is a simple 4 step strategy for recruiting the right people. Based on data drawn from 1,300 hours of interviews with hundreds of executives, including 20 billionaires and Fortune 500 CEOs, the book is packed with real-world tried and tested tips, tactics and insights that deliver offer a framework for hiring. It highlights best practices that any CEO aiming to attract and retain great performers should abide by.

Top tips:

Here are three ways to improve your success rate of attracting top performers:

• Seek them actively – ask your network relevant questions: ““Who are the most talented people you know?” Educate your network about what you’re looking for.

• Establish a scorecard that defines the desired competencies. The scorecard should determine how success will be measured, identifying critical skills, behaviours and the value you’re hoping your new recruit will add. This provides clarity for all involved.

• Run a structured interviewing process consisting of a screening interview, an in-depth interview about the career steps of the potential hiree and a focused interview assessing the desired competences for the role. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of references. Five should be a minimum. It takes time but it’s worthwhile.

I have been recommending this book to a dozens of CEOs in our network – and the feedback is clear: “Thanks for the book.  Best advice I’ve ever had.  Already hired two A Players,” says serial entrepreneur and business angel Julian Howison. He added: “I have found the scripted questions and methods for drilling down contained in the WHO book very helpful.”