Who – Starting with Success

We are always prospecting for ideas to improve our project work and I was pleasantly surprised to discover a diamond in the rough with this book, Who: the A Method for Hiring, written by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

Project professionals often say that it’s people who make a project successful.  While we look for people with experience, we frequently hear clients requesting very detailed knowledge “……someone with (mining, infrastructure, rail, roads, fill in the blank here) experience”.  The natural resources sector is now flooded with “experienced” people looking for work which makes finding the qualified project professional even that much more challenging.

Funny how we, as project professionals, sometimes forget to start at the end.

Beginning with the end in mind is an underpinning to the hiring strategies outlined in Who.  “Begin with the end in mind” is also the second habit from Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  That book was a mother-lode of self-help ideas at the time which are still relevant today.  Although not directly quoted or credited to Covey, the authors set up their strategy by separating the Who from the What and focusing on a methodology to ensure we are hiring the right project professional.

After reviewing my notes, I recognize that adopting the strategies has been straightforward:

  • What are the costs of making hiring mistakes?
  • Why are most people bad at hiring?
  • SCORECARD:  How to create a blueprint of who to hire?
  • SOURCE:  How to generate a flow of the best candidates?
  • SELECT:  What to look for to pick the right one?
  • SELL:  How to sell the ideal person on accepting a job at your company?

We deployed the strategy of creating “scorecards” to make sure we were vetting the best people for two different projects we recently ran with a client. Each project required vetting and hiring fifteen people (thirty total).  Our client was pleased with the outcomes of each initiative and was very keen on lessons learned to further improve their next initiative.  As we analyzed what went well, it became very obvious to the client that we helped them start with the right people.

Experienced project professionals were hard to identify during the overheated demand of this last mining “Super Cycle”.  Had the recruiters, hiring managers, project directors and board members taken a more strategic approach like the ones found in Who: the A Method for Hiring, hiring decisions would have been made with more thought and consideration to a focused outcome vs. the task of simply hiring someone to fill a job.

Written by John F. Gravel