Who: The A Method for Hiring

Who: The A Method for Hiring

by Geoff Smart, Randy Street

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345504197
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/30/2008
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 52,762
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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.

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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Who: The a Method for Hiring 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Aj Marshall 11 months ago
The book Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street provides an in-depth look at effective techniques managers, executives, and anyone else involved in the hiring process can implement in order to properly fill vacant positions. With the estimated success rate for hiring at only 50 percent for typical managers it is vital to find a way to cut down on the cost that come with failed hiring’s. The book teaches managers how to avoid common methods detrimental to the hiring process, such a “voodoo hiring”. Who also goes to great lengths describing how to effectively conduct an interview process to get only the top 10 percent of talent or A Players. It explains that it’s not only important to hire those with the skills necessary to complete the expectation put in front of them, but to make sure the applicant is also a proper fit with the company’s culture. The book is mostly geared to teaching those in charge with hiring the proper way to go about it, however the book can also be useful to those that find themselves on the other side of the desk looking for a job. The book allows applicants to see what proper managers are looking for in a future employee, helping to better prepare them for interviews to come. All in all, the book by Geoff Smart and Randy Street was well written with a great deal of research behind it, I find it highly applicable to anyone involved in the hiring sector of a business.
BizCoach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
GREAT!! A hands on practical system for hiring A-players throughout your company. It takes continual effort - not just when you need to fill a vacancy - and it's a lot of work. But so is hiring the wrong person and then having to replace them (or worse, put up with them).
pjeanne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
easy read, some good suggestions for interviewing
dmcolon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who is one of those books that isn't a great book and is nonetheless indispensable for people who are involved in hiring. The authors are consultants who have worked with people in far ranging fields, from finance to nonprofits to schools. They've developed a pretty convincing method of screening candidates. I won't go into the details here, but what I liked best was that they provide a systematic approach to hiring. The authors suggest developing a "scorecard" where you develop a clear picture of the type of person you need for the job. One develops one's resources for applicants and then embark upon a thorough regimen of interviewing candidates. This part of the book spoke to me -- the authors argue for clear and consistent processes for conducting these interviews. I've been in far too many interviews that they characterize as "voodoo" interviews, where the interviewer goes for a general feel of the candidate. The result is sloppy interviewing, full of useless idle chatter and repetitive questions. The result is that one winds up hiring based on feelings rather than a true assessment of a candidate's qualifications and relative fit. Working in education, I don't know that everything in this book is applicable, but the ideas are some direct and commonsensical that it will be easy to make the appropriate modifications. Nothing in this book will shock readers, but its presentation is thorough and provides a great starting point for people who need to conduct job interviews.
jeremiahstover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very understandable look at the primary factors you should be using in any hiring situation. Instead of leaving hiring as a 'black art' this book does a great job of allowing you to quantify the specifications for the job role to ensure a good match every time. Although I am not in a position to hire at the minute - I expect to turn back to this book in about a year.
smm12857 More than 1 year ago
As an HR student I thought this book was very helpful in deepening my understand of the concepts we touch on in class. From designing a job analysis to recruitment and selection efforts, this book shows how to implement their method into the real world. It also broadened my understanding on how important the entire hiring and recruitment process is. Without the best people on a manager's team it is very hard to be successful and without the proper hiring and recruitment methods, the manager will never get those A Players on their team.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the covers was a little damage, but rather than that the books were EXCELLENT!
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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Who" is an incredibly valuable book. It also is as much of a page-turner as any business book I've ever read.

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.

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.

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.
Richard_Ayers More than 1 year ago
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.

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:

* give up the traditional interview
* set clear objectives for your hiring process
* keep a positive flow of quality talent
* develop good interview questions
* position your company as a place good people want to work.

I work in human resources and find Who to be a helpful resource for educating managers on how to hire effectively.

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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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