Hire the Roots

Hire the Roots

An acquaintance of mine whose career at a company that spanned over 30 years was moved to leave the company after a serious family issue. He worked in Sr. Management and has helped build the company into a nationally respected power house having well over 200 employees and an extensive network of resources. He has done himself and the company very well. Wishing only the best for the company, he has advised and agreed to help find and train his replacement.

It’s amazing the types of people who apply for a high value position. I am convinced that nobody comes closer to perfection than describing themselves on their resume. My mind fails to provide a solution other than hiring a private investigator for each applicant. Modern day human resource management philosophy is ultra defensive, they know all the ways to have someone “let go” with the least amount of hassle, but provide little to no true directives on hiring the right person. Regardless of the fact that the right person is infinitely more critical than pruning the dead wood.

Eventually a stack of resumes are narrowed down to a few, maybe two to four. There will be positives and negatives with each applicant. At some point nearly everyone has been tempted to toss a coin to make the final choice. When looking only at abilities and talent, the coin toss can often times be just as effective as some ethereal gut feeling.

A young entrepreneur friend of mine also dropped in this week and we discussed his expansion into the maintenance industry. Since he was by far one of the highest volume customers of a local maintenance shop he decided to go into partnership while simultaneously opening another prime location in one of his newly purchased buildings. He casually talked to me about a proposed 50/50 partnership with his friend and asked about the logistics of billing, cash flow etc.

I stopped him in mid sentence, asking if he or his friend had designed a partnership buyout agreement or exit strategy. He said no, not yet. I told him I wouldn’t give any further advice until they had one signed. We then spent the next few minutes outlining his basic risks, points of leverage and legal options. Though my entrepreneur friend may be young, he eagerly seeks and takes good advice. He is in it for the long haul, he’s not in it for a quick or easy buck.

So, do you hire for talent and ability or character? Hollywood implies talent and “smart” is all you need. They promote ideals like “greed is good” or risking other peoples money while protecting your own. But that is NOT how long term business ultimately works.

Character is everything! Before I hire those who just “know” the right answers, I will hire people I can trust. Wise people will have patience to find out the right answers, dig in the right places to learn and understand. Fools can have a lot of talent at times but eventually cost more than they are paid.

You can train a wise person to do a job they have no experience at… you can’t train a fool to avoid shortcuts and character flaws, they are drawn to them like magnets. Those in business to build a great company and provide exceptional service hire sound characters and avoid the drama of fools.

I explained the hiring process to another friend. What you see is the ability tree what you hire is the roots with character. Ignore the size of the tree, focus on the strength of the roots.

Robert Scheper

Robert D Scheper has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of two books, “Making Your Miles Count: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes” and "Making Your Miles Count: Choosing a Trucking Company".

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