I was given a book written by Sir Richard Branson called Business Stripped Bare. It was a great gift, but like everything I get from clients, it got me thinking about what makes Richard Branson such an extraordinary entrepreneur in so many different industries. It got me thinking, what he would say is the most critical element in his many business successes? I’m sure he would say his people. Nothing surprising here, every leader we talk with says it’s all about their people. Many leaders talk about their people being critical to what they do, few walk their talk. How did Richard Branson build his great hiring process?
Here’s a simple question to ask to see if they walk the talk. Ask the CEO if they would go work for their company today at an entry level and still be able to achieve what they have in their life? So how do you make your business a great place to work for all your employees?
Let’s return to Sir Richard Branson. I think he would take the job again and he would end up changing the world even more. I think his secret weapon is that he knows how to hire great people. I’m not saying all the people he hires are great, but he starts his hiring process by looking for the extraordinary in people. He makes his great hiring decisions based on personality. Richard says “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on personality.” He hires people based on such unusual qualities as fun loving, friendly, caring, and love helping others. I can hear my clients gritting their teeth on the other side of the country. Here’s a question, “What has all this good hiring got you?” Great hiring helps build extraordinary organizations.
Great hiring means that you understand the resume is just a piece of paper. What is the resume really telling you about the person? I’ve known many successful entrepreneurs who just can’t work for someone else for the long term. There are many great resumes out there, but far fewer great people. Today, almost every person we hire will have a significantly different job than they do today. Richard would suggest we look for versatility in the people we hire. He also looks for transferrable skills from different industries. You never know where you will find a great idea to borrow that can transform your business.
Great hiring means you must be willing to take chances on people. If you hope to build a great team you must explore the people with whom you interview. Good hiring happens when you look for the unusual person to work on your team. From Sir Richard’s and my experience these unusual hires will become breakthrough performers. Be willing to take chances on people and you will be pleasantly surprised, if not astounded, by the results you get from these people.
Finally, great hiring means you can promote almost everyone from within. What strikes me about Richard Branson’s Virgin organizations is they work very hard to promote from within. Want to motivate and inspire people? Offer them a chance to grow where they are. Want the secret of attracting great Millennials? Offer them a chance to develop and grow at their own pace. I’ve seen many breakthroughs come from an organization’s newest employees. They don’t have all the baggage that comes with being in an organization or industry for a long time. What they may lack in skills they clearly make up with enthusiasm and new ideas.
Now that you know what Sir Richard Branson is looking for in the people he hires, would he hire you? If the answer is yes, you could be well on the way to building a great business. If not, there is still time to get started with his great hiring approach to help take your organization to the next level.
In the words of Sir Richard Branson himself, “The Brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”
You can find more great advice on serving leadership from Sir Richard Branson on a regular basis at his Virgin blog.
See you here next week.