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Why I Never Hire the Best Person for the Job

I never hire the best person for the job, but I always try to hire the best person for my company’s future. Here’s my reasoning:

A job is a task-oriented view of the business. Jobs are constantly changing because business needs are constantly changing. The best person for a job is the person who can do right now exactly what needs to be done right now. But due to the rate of change in business, it’s unlikely that what needs to be done right now is what will be needed tomorrow.  Requirements will change, customers will change, business processes will change, the world will evolve.

So what I really need is not someone who can do today’s job today — I need someone who can do tomorrow’s job tomorrow, and then continue to evolve to be able to do day-after-tomorrow’s job day-after-tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

What I’m talking about is a person who can grow with the growing needs of the business, and this adds an additional dimension to the hiring requirement. If I hire the best person for the job then I’m going to hire a one-trick pony — a person who does one thing but does it really well because he or she has done that one thing over and over.

On the other hand, if I hire the best person for my company’s future then I’ll look for a person who has a deeper perspective. The person will have some experience in a situation similar to the one I need, but more important, will have a broader experience in a number of related but very different situations as well. And most important, the person will have the perspective that’s required to understand why and how a technique that works in one situation has to be altered to work in a slightly different situation.

This deeper perspective and broader experience will help me in three ways:

  1. The person will be able to see when the job moves in a direction that requires a different approach, and will have the depth to alter the approach.
  2. When the job is complete, the person will be better positioned to move into a different job.  Thus the person will be more useful to my business in the longer term.
  3. The person will do a better job in leading, managing and training other employees in how those employees can gain a broader perspective themselves.

Now, you may ask, “Is there any situation where hiring the best person for the job is a better approach?  What about for a short-term project that’s absolutely cast in stone?”

And my answer is that (a) stone has a habit of breaking, and (b) if you really have a requirement that specific then you’re better off bringing in a contractor for the job instead of hiring. You can subcontract the best person for the job, but you should never hire such a person. One-trick ponies have no place as employees — they’ll prevent your business from growing and evolving.

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