May 2, 2022
Is Hiring Talent Your Pain Point? Here’s how the "A Method" can actually help.

Geoff Smart & Randy Street of ghSMART have proven "who" problems are preventable & in their book, "WHO: The A Method for Hiring", present a 4-step approach to recruit top performing candidates in the right place for optimal success. We’re going to give you a quick rundown of this method & tell you why, at SIRA, we’re a big fan. 

“The most important decisions that businesspeople make are not what decisions, but who decisions.” - Jim Collins

We’ve heard quotes like "culture eats strategy for breakfast" by management guru Peter Drucker. 

& in almost every entrepreneurial workshop or business seminar out there, hiring the best team & having the right people around you is continuously talked about & considered the single most important key to success. 

Yet we’ve constantly heard CEOs & managers talk about their biggest challenge being talent. Finding it, hiring it, & retaining it. The Economist even called unsuccessful hiring  "the single biggest problem in business". 

Geoff Smart & Randy Street of ghSMART have proven that these "who" problems are preventable. & in their book, "WHO: The A Method for Hiring", present a 4-step approach to recruit top performing candidates or "A Players" in the right place for optimal success. Afterall, "in business you are who you hire".

In this blog post, we’re going to give you a quick rundown of this method (which will make you want to read this book, trust me) & tell you why, at SIRA, we’re a big fan. 

Okay so here are the 4 steps that build the A method for hiring:

  1. Scorecard

Here’s where you link your hiring plan with the company strategy.

The method starts off with a scorecard, a document that describes "the mission for the position, outcomes that must be accomplished, & competencies that fit with both the culture of the company & the role": 

The cultural, behavioral, & technical competencies define how a person would achieve the job’s mission & outcomes. This would ensure you hire someone who has a cultural & organizational fit.  

Let’s give you an example to paint a clearer picture.

The mission for a VP of Sales might be "to double our revenue over X years by enter sales strategy & setting up a team of A players to land new accounts & grow existing ones". 

One outcome might be to grow revenue from X to 2X by year 3 with annual growth of %. Another would be to topgrade the sales department by the end of year 1.

Some critical competencies for this role might be analytical skills, persistence, enthusiasm, & the ability to hire A players.

A scorecard is more functional than a typical job description because it focuses on what the person must get done, the outcomes, rather than what a person will be doing, the activities. It also ensures that the person would get the outcomes done while also safeguarding your culture.

“Scorecards translate your business plan into role-by-role outcomes & create alignment among your team, & they unify your culture & ensure people understand your expectations”.

  1. Source

The second step of the "A method" is actually a continuous process. A systemic sourcing method that ensures you already have a pool of A players when you need them. The book lists a bunch of ways you can source candidates:

  • Referrals from your personal or professional networks
  • Referrals from employees
  • Deputizing friends of the firm
  • Hiring external recruiters
  • Hiring recruiting researchers 

Talented people know talented people & A players tend to surround themselves with A players. So grow your pool of talent from there. 

We’re not going to spoil it too much but the book actually suggests sourcing systems; ways, incentives, methods, & questions you can ask so you can constantly keep sourcing & developing your relationships with A players. It even suggests ways to deal with recruiters &/or researchers that can ensure the most optimal success rate.

Not to toot our own horn, but joining a community like SIRA is another way to source A players. I mean you’re automatically surrounded with highly driven, extremely talented, & diverse professionals. You’d grow your sources of talent in no time.

  1. Select

Okay now that you have your scorecard & a talented pool of potential hires. It’s time for you to select one person for the job. 

The book describes a series of 4 structured interviews that allow you to gather the data needed so you can rate the scorecard & make the right hiring decision using the “skill-will bull’s-eye” method.

The 4 interviews are:

  1. The screening interview
  2. The who interview
  3. The focused interview 
  4. The reference interview

The book details how to conduct each interview, what questions to ask & how. It even suggests master tactics to dig even deeper & warns against a number of red flags to watch for.

You then use the skill-will bull’s-eye profile method to compare the data you got from the interview to the scorecard of the role you developed in step 1. The skill assesses the candidate’s ability to achieve outcomes & the will accesses their motivation & competencies in doing so.

This will help you avoid some of the top 10 “voodoo hiring” methods such as hiring someone solely based on a gut feeling, an aptitude test, psychological or personality tests or aggressively bombarding the candidate with trick questions. 

  1. Sell

If you properly implemented this method then you most likely landed an A player. So it's fair to assume this candidate had plenty of other offers. Now it's time for you to sell the candidate & seal the deal.

The key here is to put yourself in the candidates shoes & care for what they for & accordingly sell them on what they most care about. The book highlights the "the five fs of selling", the five areas which most A candidates care about: fit, family, freedom, fortune, & fun. It also describes the five waves of selling, how & when to sell the five fs to your candidate. 

The A method is simple & practical & can help solve your number one pain point; finding, hiring, & retaining top quality candidates. The writers of the book and the 100s of business leaders interviewed have had great success.

They’ve realized that it's talent that drives the company strategy & its execution, “the who behind the what” & accordingly shifted their focus from “chasing the what, to solving the who”. 

Why does SIRA love this method?

Okay so if you’ve reached this far you already know that this method is great for helping source, hire, & sign an A player to help you grow your business. That’s awesome! 

SIRA is all about equal opportunity & so we are particularly fans of this method because it forces managers & recruiters to check their unconscious hiring bias at the door.

HBR cites a vast body of research that shows just how biased the hiring process is. Sexism, ageism, racism, classism, ableism, queerphobia still play a massive role in who gets offered a job. 

To quote a blog post by IQ partners, Canada’s leading recruitment agency, “unconscious bias affects your approach to hiring, the type of questions you ask, the resumes you prefer & all other decisions you make when comparing candidates”. 

Following the who method will force hiring managers to focus solely on the scorecard at hand & ensures they ask the appropriate questions. Rating the candidate on their ability to achieve the outcomes & their competencies rather than judge them on factors that have nothing to do with the job at hand. 

The “A Method for Hiring” is a practical way to reduce unconscious bias during the hiring process, helps in giving candidates an equal shot at the job, & supports companies in selecting the best candidate for them. 

Follow us for more growth-driven takes & let us know are you going to implement the A method for your hiring strategy?

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Zara M. Najjar

Co-Founder & Opportunity Driver @ SIRA
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