Who: The A Method for Hiring

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Overview

In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.

The silver lining is that “who” ...

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Who: The A Method for Hiring

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Overview

In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.

The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate.

Whether you’re a member of a board of directors looking for a new CEO, the owner of a small business searching for the right people to make your company grow, or a parent in need of a new babysitter, it’s all about Who. Inside you’ll learn how to

• avoid common “voodoo hiring” methods
• define the outcomes you seek
• generate a flow of A Players to your team–by implementing the #1 tactic used by successful businesspeople
• ask the right interview questions to dramatically improve your ability to quickly distinguish an A Player from a B or C candidate
• attract the person you want to hire, by emphasizing the points the candidate cares about most

In business, you are who you hire. In Who, Geoff Smart and Randy Street offer simple, easy-to-follow steps that will put the right people in place for optimal success.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Advance praise for Who

“Seventy percent of the game is finding the right people, putting them in the right position, listening to them, and alleviating what gets in their way. Who is a practical guide to making sure you get the right people to start with! Excellent advice and guide.”
–Robert Gillette, president and CEO, Honeywell Aerospace

“Geoff Smart and Randy Street have done an amazing job distilling the best advice from some of the world’s most successful business leaders.”
–Wayne Huizenga, founder, Blockbuster Video

“A great read–it really is all about finding, keeping, and motivating the team.” –John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media Corporation

“The key point in this book is that those of us who run companies should include who decisions near the top of the list of strategic priorities.”
–John Varley, group chief executive, Barclays

“Who is the only book you need to read if you are serious about making smart hiring and promotion decisions. It is the most actionable book on middle- and upper-management hiring that I’ve read after twenty years in HR.”
–Ed Evans, executive vice president and chief personnel officer, Allied Waste Industries

“I wish I had this book thirty years ago, at the beginning of my career!”
–Jay Jordan, chairman and CEO, the Jordan Company

“This book will save you and your company time and money. In business, what else is there?”
–Roger Marino, co-founder, EMC Corporation

“You’ll find yourself nodding yes, saying ‘That’s right,’ and thinking, Oh, I’ve been there, all the way through this grand slam of a book. Whether you’re starting a company or running a part of a big one, the level of success you achieve is almost always a result of choosing the right people for the right jobs at the right time. It’s all about the who!”
–Aaron Kennedy, founder and chairman, Noodles & Company

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345504197
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 47,279
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoff Smart is the chairman and CEO of ghSMART, the management assessment firm for CEOs and investors.

Randy Street is the president of ghSMART Executive Learning and a top-rated international public speaker.

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Read an Excerpt

Your #1 Problem

What does a who problem look like?

Remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel find work at a candy factory? They’re supposed to be wrapping chocolates, but they can’t keep up with the pace. So instead of letting the candy pass them by, they start shoving it into their mouths, down their shirts, and anywhere else it will fit. That’s when a supervisor looks in and congratulates the new hires on the empty conveyor belt. Then she calls to someone in the next room, “Speed it up!” And with that the chaos really ensues.

You could spend countless hours trying to optimize the line, but that wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter. The supervisor didn’t have a conveyor problem. She had a Lucy problem.

The Lucy problem is a who problem, but chances are yours is neither as funny nor so far down the chain of command. As an engineering friend of ours often laments, “Managing is easy, except for the people part!”

In an October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist reported that finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today.* We doubt that surprised most readers. The fact is, virtually every manager struggles to find and hire the talent necessary to drive his or her business forward.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the CEO who sank a multibillion-dollar public company, the district manager who allowed his region to fall behind competition, even the executive assistant who couldn’t keep a schedule. Most of us have lived those stories and could add dozens more to the list.

Even we have made bad who decisions. A few years back, Geoff and his wife hired a nanny we’ll call Tammy to look after their children. Unfortunately, Geoff had what his six-year-old calls a “space-out moment” and neglected to apply the method this book describes when he hired her.

Not many months later, Geoff was on the phone in his home office when he saw his two-year-old running naked down the driveway. He immediately hung up on his client and raced outdoors to stop his daughter before she ran into the street. Fortunately, the FedEx truck was not barreling up the driveway at that moment.
Then Geoff went looking for Tammy to find out what had happened. All she could say was, “Well, it’s hard to keep track of all of the kids.” It is, but as Geoff explained to her, that’s exactly what she had been hired to do. Sometimes a who problem can mean life or death.

Needless to say, Geoff’s next nanny search commenced immediately, involved the method presented in this book, and resulted in a much better hire.

The fact is, all of us let our who guard down sometimes. We realize how inflated resumes can be. Yet we accept at face value claims of high accomplishment that we know better than to fully trust. Due diligence, after all, takes time, and time is the one commodity most lacking in busy managers’ lives.
George Buckley grew up with adoptive parents in a boardinghouse in a rough part of Sheffield, England, went to a school for physically handicapped children, and worked his way up to becoming the successful CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, where he works now. It’s the sort of background that breeds a healthy skepticism about resumes.

When we met with Buckley, he got straight to the point: “One of the hardest challenges is to hire people from outside the company. One of the basic failures in the hiring process is this: What is a resume? It is a record of a person’s career with all of the accomplishments embellished and all the failures removed.”

Jay Jordan, CEO of the Jordan Company, told us how he once hired a candidate who looked great on paper but failed in the role. The executive demanded some feedback from Jordan on the day of his termination. Jordan didn’t want to add insult to injury, but finally couldn’t stop himself from saying, “Look, I hired your resume. But unfortunately, what I got was you!”

Due diligence is also lacking in what Kelvin Thompson, a top executive recruiter with Heidrick & Struggles, calls “the worst mistake boards make–the ‘la-di-da’ interview: nice lunch, nice chat. They say this is a CEO, and we cannot really interview them. So you have a board who never really interviews the candidates.”

The techniques you will learn in the pages that follow will help everyone–boards, hiring managers at every level, even parents hiring a nanny–find the right who for whatever position needs filling. The method will do the due diligence for you. It lets you focus on the individual candidates without losing sight of the goals and values of your organization.

Before our method can work to its optimal level, though, chances are you might have to break some bad hiring habits of your own.

* The Economist, October 7—13, 2006.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Who, Not What

1 Your #1 Problem 3

2 Scorecard: A Blueprint for Success 19

3 Source: Generating a Flow of A Players 47

4 Select: The Four Interviews for Spotting A Players 67

5 Sell: The Top Five Ways to Seal the Deal 123

6 Your Greatest Opportunity 147

For More Information 173

Biographies of Captains of Industry 175

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Cloudkit

    Hey kits braveheart said to come vto the first result

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    One of the covers was a little damage, but rather than that the books were EXCELLENT!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Actionable recruiting guide

    Geoff Smart and Randy Street offer a clear, sensible strategy for finding, selecting and recruiting the best candidates for jobs you are trying to fill. Their process, called the "A Method for Hiring," begins with a step many managers neglect: preparing a focused, specific description of the results you will expect from the person who gets the job. The authors describe the four steps of their hiring method in just the right amount of detail, neither bogging the reader down in minutiae nor leaving important matters to the imagination. They use real-life anecdotes to connect their advice to actual business problems and issues. Many books about human resources tend to be long on vague generalizations and short on actionable, how-to information. getAbstract thinks this book is a standout and recommends its straightforward ideas to anyone who is responsible for hiring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

    Superlative business book!

    "Who" is an incredibly valuable book. It also is as much of a page-turner as any business book I've ever read. <BR/><BR/>The authors take on perhaps the #1 challenge facing anyone in a leadership position: how do you find good people to successfully enact your institutional mission and vision? Based on their own consulting experience and exhaustive research among a virtual "who's who" of CEOs and managers, Mr. Smart and Mr. Street take the reader step-by-step through the how-to's and, perhaps even more importantly, the how-not-to's of effective recruiting and hiring. <BR/><BR/>This book is engaging, compelling, and even entertaining. From their critique of what they call "voodoo hiring methods," to their very clear and actionable four-step process for recruiting (scorecard, source, select, and sell), anyone who employs people will find tremendous value. <BR/><BR/>While reading "Who," I was reminded of a t.v. show in which a masked magician shares the secrets behind seemingly impossible tricks. The mask is necessary because of the presumed hostility that other magicians will feel towards someone breaching their code of silence. I hope that Mr. Smart and Mr. Street don't need to resort to wearing masks to protect themselves from aggrieved H.R. consultants, but their willingness to reveal the secrets behind their clearly successful methods will be much appreciated by anyone who makes the very wise investment in buying and reading this book.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Solve your hiring problems

    A company is only as strong as the human capital that keeps it humming. Unemployment is on its way up, leading to greater scrutiny and a greater number of applicants to screen for every open position. The authors of Who present the challenge of hiring right as an obstacle that can be overcome. They conducted a thousand plus hours of interviews with three hundred CEOs and 20 billionaires to determine some best strategies for getting the right people on the bus.<BR/><BR/>The book's style is applicable if you're working in a non-profit, traditional US corporation or even a small business. Specifically the authors aim to help you:<BR/><BR/>* give up the traditional interview<BR/>* set clear objectives for your hiring process<BR/>* keep a positive flow of quality talent<BR/>* develop good interview questions<BR/>* position your company as a place good people want to work.<BR/><BR/>I work in human resources and find Who to be a helpful resource for educating managers on how to hire effectively.<BR/><BR/>Another book I recommend strongly for engaging your workforce and helping them to make the most of what they have is The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book it's an outstanding book and a perfect follow-on to Who for those you choose to hire.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    WHO Trumps WHAT

    Intriguingly insightful, deceptively simple, intuitively appealing. The authors use research with CEOs to support a strong, tight model that works. Definitely the smart way to select for talent. Richard M. Vosburgh, Ph.D. Founding Partner, RMV Solutions

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2008

    Incredible Hiring Book!

    I just finished reading a pre-release copy of the book Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. Wow, it¿s good. Really good. Geoff and his father Brad Smart are well known as the team that popularized Topgrading, a thorough interview process that takes the success rate for new hires from the average of about 50% to just over 90%. I don¿t know of a business owner alive who wouldn¿t love to increase the effectiveness of the interview and hire more effectively. Smart and Street are experts in their field ¿ they are paid huge sums of money to do this for some of the biggest and best companies in the world. Their research estimates that the average hiring mistake costs employers 15 times the salary of the incorrect hire. The number sounds absurdly high, but when you include salary, lost productivity and opportunity costs, it¿s plausible. Frightening. Who is a fast and simple read, but is heavy on content. It begins with a discussion of what they call voodoo hiring, or the process most business owners use during the interview process, and it was painful for me. I¿m guilty of voodoo hiring and I¿m guessing most of you are, too. Much of my process is guessing and gut feel, and is done over too short of a period of time. It¿s not hard to see the need for a change. Next comes a simple explanation of why hiring ¿A¿ players is so important. They define an ¿A¿ player as the right superstar for the job, a talented person who fits in well with your company culture. B and C hires cost you money A¿s make you rich. The meat of the book is about the four keys to what they call the A Method : Scorecard, Source, Select and Sell. I can¿t do justice to the brilliance of the system in this short review, but here are the basics. The scorecard is your blueprint for the job ¿ not a description, but the criteria you will be using to judge the person who is ultimately hired. Source is how you find your candidates, primarily referrals and recruiting. Select goes over the four interviews that need to be conducted ¿ screening, Topgrading, focused and reference. Sell is important and often overlooked, selling your top candidate on taking the job. With great people in demand, you need to fight for your best people. Many of us have read Topgrading ¿ it¿s a long read but describes the theory well. Even so, countless managers still have trouble implementing the system. Who bridges that gap and helps us see the whole process ¿ then implement it well. This book just became required reading at Greenleaf Book Group, and the process is our new hiring process. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve hiring practices and remove a huge piece of the risk. Clint Greenleaf CEO, Greenleaf Book Group

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    Posted March 6, 2011

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted August 1, 2010

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    Posted December 19, 2009

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    Posted December 13, 2010

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    Posted August 29, 2011

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