On Getting Good Talent

There is a shortage of good talent for many key positions.  It may seem counterintuitive, but it is imperative at times like this that you be MORE selective in who you attract and select.  Here are a few very practical ideas:

  • The biggest mistake in hiring is not in hiring a poor performer (because you’ll weed them out quickly,) but rather in hiring a mediocre performer, because chances are that person will be allowed to continue on producing mediocre results for years. Refine your entire selection process to better identify high-performers.
  • Don’t satisfice. Satisficing is hiring the first person you come across who could do the job.  Don’t do it.
  • Have selection criteria. Use a multi-attribute utility model to assess at least a few candidates based on key selection criteria.
  • Your culture is very important. So, don’t let anyone into your company who does not fit the culture.
  • Be careful how you word recruitment ads. If you state certain criteria as required, many good people will not respond if they don’t have all the “required” criteria.  You’ll miss out on some very good conscientious candidates.
  • How many people do you know who are “excellent” at communication? Right — very few.  Yet, I continue to see many ads, for positions at all levels, stating that candidates must have excellent communication skills, people skills, teamwork skills, etc.
  • Interviews are the most ineffective and least reliable ways of assessing candidates. (Ever wonder why most colleges have done away with campus interviews?)  You can improve the reliability and validity of interviews through techniques such as behavior-based interviewing and structured interviews.

© Copyright 2017  Bob Legge


Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

Why Your Strategy Depends on Talent

The success of your strategy depends heavily on the quality of your talent, particularly in key positions.  Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, says the best performers are twice as good as average in procedural work and ten times better than average in creative and inventive work.  I agree.  The worst mistake you can make in hiring is to bring on a mediocre performer, because you’ll probably keep him/her for a long time, unlike a weak performer who will likely be separated or leave in the short-term.  The lessons?  First, make sure you have outstanding talent in key positions.  Second, upgrade your process to select the best.

© Bob Legge 2013  All rights reserved

Coming Soon:  I just finished filming an 8-part video series on business strategy and tactics and sailing.  Filmed on my boat, a Cape Dory 36, the series covers strategy, tactics, leadership, navigation, change and more in both sailing and business.  The parallels are entertaining and compelling.  I’ll be providing links very soon.