Hiring – Thoughts From Overcaffeinated CEOs

Big Red Car here on a gray, cold day in the ATX. Brrr, it’s 47F (feels like 42F), the start of the next Ice Age — please send some global warming, talking to you, Al Gore.

Recently, the Big Red Car was talking to a gaggle of CEOs (gaggle is 4 or more for CEOs) and the subject was hiring. Hiring of top people in an organization which was out of the cradle and able to walk.

You know like: crawl, walk, run.

These CEOs were running shops which are going to make it. The question is exactly where. Some of them will be “long balls with men on base.” LBWMOB

Image result for baseball images

So, here’s what we came away with.

Musings on hiring

Thoughts on hiring, based on a third latte:

 1. Really good CEOs are always hiring, meaning they are always looking for talent. Really good CEOs have a “following” of disciples who go with them from company to company.

 2. Really good companies have a process in place which is documented and followed. The process does not take long and it is decisive.

It is more important to cull those who you do not intend to consider or hire from a long list than it is to try to find the top five candidates. Think about it, every candidate has an energy cost. Throw the lost energy over first before it fatigues you.

Before you hire that first HR pro, read this.

Human Relations — Crawl, Walk, Run

 3. Really good companies have a dollar weighted org chart and when they bring someone on, it is to fill a spot at a targeted cost. << This is the adult stuff.

 4. Good companies have written job descriptions and often a document which may be called a “Basis of Employment” which lays out more than just a job description, but also lays out reporting relationships.

The Big Red Car always had good Basis of Employment docs that could be as long as fifteen pages, but they included compensation info. Some of them were works of art. This saves confusion as to what the candidate thinks they are hiring on to do.

 5. Good companies have a mature compensation program with salary, benefits, short term comp, long term incentive comp, and “something special” as part of the hiring process. We have talked about this subject at length.

The Design of Compensation Packages for C Level Execs and Senior Management

 6. Good companies have written Employee Handbooks, sophisticated policies, and a handle on their culture including ritual.

 7. Good companies have a workable Performance Appraisal system and stick to it. They do it on time and they deal with compensation at the same time. Nothing worse than having a useful conversation on Performance Appraisal and no resultant action. Here are some thoughts on CEO Performance Appraisal that are adaptable.

CEO Performance Appraisal

 8. Good companies train their staffs and always turn a weather eye toward promoting from within. Sometimes the best candidate for a position is already at the company. Draft athletes and train them for their positions.

 9. Good companies make the first day, the onboarding, the most memorable day of a person’s employment. People talk this, but few actually do it.

 10. People are drawn to work for organizations that have demonstrated they know what they are doing — the United States Marine Corps lives on this principle.

 11. Things just go better when the company has a clear Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, and Values. The Objectives element is the scorecard upon which performance must be appraised.

If you have no clear personal objectives, how do you know or how does the employee know if they are doing a good job? A great job?

The basic compact

An employer-employee relationship is based on a simple compact.

 1. It is the employer’s job to provide an environment in which its people can do their best work.

CEOs and HR departments need to remember this all the time. Get a tattoo.

 2. It is the employee’s duty to faithfully execute the vision, mission, strategy, tactics, objectives which are communicated to them and which are the basis of their employment. [See why that Basis of Employment doc looms large in the conversation?]

When I see failures, I can always trace them to some crack in the basic compact.

One last topic which is dear to the Big Red Car is the subject of Employment Agreements. Since the BRC is usually advising CEOs and other C-suite species, this is a subject which may not touch on other hires, but I want you to read this in order to get a framework for what is important in such a relationship.


So, there you have it, dear reader, the accumulated wisdom of several over-caffeinated CEOs.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. For the record, the BRC bought the lattes.