I hired your resumé, and I ended up with you!

April 16, 2012

I’m really not much of sports fan. I just figured out that the Florida Marlins are now the Miami Marlins when I saw their gorgeous new stadium on TV on opening day.

This fact may be surprising to people who hear me a lot, because I love to use sports analogies.

Not in that failed former athlete, Glory Days kind of way. My couple of years of kicking a soccer ball around and one year of high school track doesn’t really give me too much gravitas in that department. (I purposely chose the 100 yard dash because the gap from first to worst was only a few feet. I probably would have been lapped in a mile run.)

No, I just like the classic allusions to pulling a team together to achieve a common goal, giving it your all in the quest for victory and the various subtleties of acquiring, managing and coaching talent in a people-driven business.

The always insightful Steve Jones of Curtis Buck Associates is no sports analogy slouch (plus he has the athleticism to back it up), and his April 13 post  “Petrino and Ozzie – You Get What You Hire” made a great point:

Well, in the last week we have seen Bobby Petrino fired and Ozzie Guillen suspended and clinging to his job.  Neither of these scenarios should come as a surprise to anyone, yet both the University of Arkansas and the Miami Marlins organization’s acted as if they were taken completely by surprise.  There was an absolutely massive and very public record for both Bobby Petrino and Ozzie Guillen – the organizations knew very well who they were hiring.  And that is the issue – you get what you hire.  You get ALL of what you hire.

I agree with all of that. Sometimes, though it’s even worse. Sometimes, you don’t even get what you THINK you hired. Usually, it’s because you weren’t really paying attention.

I hired your resumé, and I ended up with you!

A colleague of mine once asked me to interview a potential portfolio manager as a replacement for someone who hadn’t worked out very well. Within 20 minutes I discovered that while the new candidate was smart and personable and had interesting experience inside another wealth management firm; she had never managed any client portfolios directly, she had no meaningful client relationship management experience and she had never worked in a role with a sales goal.

I politely thanked her for her time and told her my colleague would get back to her. I asked my colleague why she had advanced the candidate to this level despite her lack of direct experience.

“Well, her resume was impressive, she’s very smart and I really liked her”, he said.

“Sounds like the same thing you said when you hired the last person. How did that work out?”, I asked.

We had a long conversation, and he began to discover that he really wasn’t interviewing candidates, he was jumping to conclusions based on limited information, then selling the candidate on the job for which he had just convinced himself was a perfect fit.

You’re hiring the person, not the title

In my 2/18/12 post “What is the Talent Density of Your Team?” I referenced some quotes from a Netflix presentation on Culture. Another comes to mind here:

Lots of people have the title “Major League Pitcher”, but they are not all equally effective

This got me thinking– what if baseball teams hired like most of corporate America?

“Well, I see here that you came up through the Indians farm organization, great way to start…. uh huh, a couple of years with the A’s… so why are you leaving the Yankees? I see. Well, let me ask you this– we are looking for someone who can really deliver late in the game. Do you have any experience in close games, runners on base, no one out? OK, that’s great! So, hypothetically, you’re facing a left handed power hitter in a full count– what pitch do you go with in that situation?”

Crazy, right? We would already have all of the player’s stats and accomplishments and we would know exactly why we were hiring him, for what role, and what he is worth relative to his expected contribution to the team.

Not that hiring is perfect in sports, either.

You could always end up with Manny Ramirez.

Then end up “surprised” when he misses a game because he decided to go swimming with dolphins that day. As Steve Jones said, you get ALL of what you hire.

But that’s “just Manny being Manny“…

Oh, by the way– my colleague ended up solving his hiring problems after reading the book Who: The A Method For Hiring, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. I recommend it for any hiring manager.

One comment

  1. […] have written about my tendency to overuse sports analogies before, but Portfolio Football takes it to a whole new level as personal finance and portfolio […]

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