Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Category: Hiring

Attitude vs. Aptitude

18 January, 2011 (23:13) | Hiring, Leadership, Management, Personal Development | By: Administrator

In his new book, Hard Goals, Mark Murphy shares information on a 1992 study by Fortune editor George Colvin which measured the skills of 257 music students. The study showed that there was no correlation between early musical ability and top musical performance. The interesting finding was that the top students practiced 2 hours/day versus 15 minutes for the lowest performing students. He used the numbers to extrapolate total hours of practice for the musicians by age 18. Turns out the top performers would have practiced 7,000 hours, the average ones, 5000 hours and the lower level musicians, 3,400 hours. Natural talent did not appear to be the difference maker.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Fortunately I’ve been blessed with both, so it’s not much of a debate for me.

Wanda B. Goode: I think we can all name quite a few very bright people with bad attitudes that have struggled. Similarly, we all know a few with limited skills that light the world on fire with their passion and drive. A good attitude can overcome many deficiencies. As managers, attitude should be a significant consideration during the hiring process.

Here are some related posts…

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Getting the Right People on the Bus

24 October, 2007 (00:35) | Hiring, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book Good to Great Jim Collins talks about the importance of getting the right people on the bus. He mentions how great leaders don’t hire people unless they know they are a good fit. They’d rather leave a position unfilled than fill it with the wrong person. 

Joe Kerr: I like that. I’m definitely going to use that one at the next leadership meeting. “We need to make sure we have the right people on the buss, guys. Quality is job one and there can be no compromising.” I like it?   

Wanda B. Goode: I agree with Jim, but I also acknowledge that leaving a position vacant for too long has its drawbacks. It can be devastating to morale. First, there is an extra strain on the team until it is filled. Second, there is a fear that if the team goes long enough without a replacement, there never will be a replacement. I think we’ve all seen that happen before. There can be outside pressures to fill positions too. For instance, consulting companies have client demands. Clients want people to start yesterday. Consulting companies seek to oblige, not only to satisfy the client, but to start billing as well.  With that said, patience is critical. Choosing the wrong person can be extremely costly. The price tag on hiring a new employee is huge. It also takes a lot of work to remove an employee that’s not a fit. Further, the damage that can be done to the team prior to removing the employee can be devastating. Having patience is not the same as being overly picky. The perfect person who has experience in every single job requirement and is also within your price range may not even exist. The most important thing is that you are comfortable that the person can do the job well. During the interview process, the person must have demonstrated certain key characteristics. In his book, Winning, Jack Welch talks about his “Acid Test.” The person must display integrity, intelligence, and maturity. What’s your acid test?  Nobody bats a thousand with new hires, but the closer you can come the better. Over time, you will build trust with team members and they will be more understanding of delays in filling positions. Customers will respect you more and your organization will be much more effective.   

Hiring Freaks

8 May, 2007 (10:16) | Hiring, Management | By: Administrator

In his new book, Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age Tom Peters “declares war on the worthless rules, absurd organizational barriers, and petty corporate middle managers that stand in the way of creativity and success.” He advocates “hiring Freaks.”

Joe and Wanda, care to comment?

Joe Kerr: I believe I’ve said this before. I haven’t read a book since high school and I don’t plan to start now. There’s not a thing that I haven’t learned already in the school of hard knocks.

As far as freaks are concerned, I have my fill of them already thank you very much. I deal with them every day of my life. You can keep your freaks Tommy!

Wanda B. Goode: I have not read the book, but I like the concepts. We do need to expose ourselves to those that think differently than we do, people that march to their own drummer, people that are not afraid to break a few rules to follow their passion. I’ve had some eccentric team members over the years. Sometimes they can get you into a little bit of trouble, but they are like a breath of fresh air. They typically have interesting perspectives and very good ideas. Bring ‘em on!

Hiring Quality Candidates

22 April, 2007 (17:25) | Hiring, Management | By: Administrator

Staffing open positions is not easy. Finding qualified candidates, reviewing resumes, and conducting phone screens and interviews are very time consuming activities. Let’s check with Joe and Wanda to find out their approach.

Joe Kerr: Our recruiting staff is brutal. We can’t seem to get qualified candidates. When by some freak of nature we do, I make my final selection in short order. I can size up a person in a few seconds. Haven’t picked wrong yet. Sure I’ve transferred a few, because they weren’t an exact match for the job, but I’ve never had to let anyone go! You can look it up.

Wanda B. Goode: I try to work closely with the recruiting staff. It’s important to educate them on the position requirements so they can find good candidates. It’s also important to work with the team. They frequently recommend quality candidates. As far as interviews go, we have a list of technical and behavioral questions for each job function. It’s important to maintain consistency. Not all team members have much interviewing experience either, so having a list of open-ended questions to guide the interviews is very helpful. Typically multiple team members and I conduct the interviews. We rate the candidates based on certain qualifications. We have a meeting to discuss and choose the candidate. Even with the best hiring practices, it’s impossible to pick a winner every time. We’ve just implemented a few things to improve our odds.