Posted by: garispang | June 4, 2009

A Military Approach to Hiring Successful People!

A recent blog article on Tech Crunch about Google’s Marissa Mayer and her comments at the Le Web Conference in Paris has sparked a lot of comments and conversation which is great. The conversation being around how she has gone about building her team over the last decade – her response:

“I like to hire people who have two traits. They’re smart, and they get things done.”

Some have taken the stance of – thanks for pointing out the obvious! As no doubt no one sets out to hire un-intelligent lazy people. However, as someone who has spent their career in recruitment and HR, hiring smart people who get things done is not as easy as you would think.

The reality is that it is not always clear from the interview and reference checks and that you need to see them in action or not to get a true sense of if the relationship is going to work for both parties. You also have to look at the combination of traits as highlighted below. Smart and lazy can be a great combination, as can dumb and energetic so long as they are positioned in the right roles – as long as it fits into your overall talent strategy!

A terrific book ‘The 500 Year Delta – What Happens After What Comes Next’ highlights this perfectly.
This matrix below by Frank Layne shows how a German Military Strategist Erwin Romel deployed his troops.

Digerati Matrix

“ For Rommel, Layne explained, the deployment of the dumb and the lazy was easy to figure out: They’re the infantry; they take spears well. The smart and energetic get behind the enemy lines and make sure supplies reach them there. They push the envelope and bring you to the point where you can win the battle, but they don’t put victory over the top. The two most critical groups, Rommel believed, were the lazy and the smart, and the dumb and energetic. The dumb and energetic are the most dangerous of all groups, because they look a great deal like the smart and energetic, but if you trust yourself to them – if you trust them to infiltrate and destroy from the rear – you are doomed. The smart and lazy win battles and wars because, in their aversion to doing rote work for rote works sake, they are constantly trying to figure out a better way. They are the creators, warfare’s equivalent of the digerati.”

The qualities of those you hire are not always immediately evident and it is not until you have had a month or so to see them in action that you can ascertain if they are the right fit.

What do you use as a hiring strategy to find the smart people who get things done?


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