Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lesson #4: Tailor Fit the Job to the Candidate Who Can Help Your Team Win

When a team has a vacancy, does a good coach look only for a player who will fit the jersey he already has?  Does the coach only look for players wearing the same shoe size as the last player wore?   Of course not!  Great coaches will find the player the team needs to become better and then fit the uniform of their team to that player. 
Similarly, if the coach is focused only on finding a certain set of skills for a new player (such as a good passer if a football team needs a quarterback), he remains open to the fact that he may come across such a good running quarterback that it opens up entirely new opportunities for the team to win.  Instead of remaining blindly committed to what he thought he was looking for, a great coach will be open to adapt the position (and perhaps even his entire offense) to make best use of the skills he finds in the new player
Job descriptions are like this in many ways.  You may think you know exactly what you are looking for in a new worker, and there is a outside chance you might even find an exact match to the job description you have.  But more likely, you will find someone who has most of the skills your job description requires but is deficient in some other areas that may or may not be critical.  The best strategy when facing this is to alter the job description slightly to match the abilities of your new hire, emphasizing some areas and de-emphasizing others.   
Remember, job descriptions are not sacred.  Even if you cannot alter your company’s standard job description for a specific position, you should clearly understand that some “required skills” are more important than others.  Your “team” can benefit most when you remain open to minor alterations of the job description to person you actually hire.   A good rule of thumb is to find a candidate that has at least 75% of the skills you are looking for (and adapting to the non-critical weaknesses the person has), and be open to modifying the job description to capture the additional skills the candidate demonstrates as a “windfall”.   If the “total package” still looks good, you are well on your way to building a winning team!

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