There are two mantras that I’ve picked up from different sources over the years. The first one is from Silicon Valley:
A-players hire A-players. B-players hire C-players
The sure sign of mediocrity is the manager that doesn’t hire people who can challenge him. People who aren’t good enough, people who don’t know that they’re good enough, have a tendency to be afraid when someone who may be better than them walks through the door. You’ve all seen it. The manager who consistently hires moderate performers, who are never, ever going to be able to challenge him for his job. That’s exactly what those Silicon Valley guys mean when they say that “B-players hire C-players”. The guy was good enough to become a manager — he’s a B-player. But he’s not good enough that he doesn’t have to worry about everyone around him, and so he surrounds himself with talent that makes him look good.
Run away. Run away from that manager as fast and far as you can.
The other mantra is
Always hire better.
That actually means two things. The first of which is the first portion of that Silicon Valley quote: always hire A-players. Strive to hire those better than you. If you’re really a good manager, then
- You really want to build the best team out there; and
- You really want to hire your own replacement
I mean, you do want to move upwards and onwards someday, don’t you?
The second part of always hiring better is a little more subtle. It’s about always hiring better than the last time. No matter how long you’ve been doing this, you can get better at hiring decisions. Work on your process, work on your questions. Review yourself — hard — in the light of your last three or four hires. How could you have done better?
If you focus on the self-improvement part of hiring better, then the actual hiring better part will come naturally.
Or, to invoke a third mantra:
If you build it, they will come.