Hire Smart, Not Seniority

The folks of 37signals have written on Years of Irrelevance that years of experience is not a good enough indicator to hire people. Marissa Mayer and Joel Spolsky recommend to hire people that are smart and get things done. From my years of experience, and irrelevance, I believe this to be true. People that don’t get things done, will somehow delegate it to someone else that is most likely already getting her own work done. I my career I have seen people that don’t know how to get their stuff done (practice) but can talk a good game (theory) and are therefore promoted to manage people instead. The problem is that if they couldn’t get their work done, how can the manage others to do theirs? I’ve seen teams waste time, energy, and opportunity by not working smart, asking the wrong questions, and focusing on the what is not important.

Here is another more concrete example that I experienced this week. I recently closed a feature request and the bug tracking software we use emailed the requester back with the status. I immediately received a forward from the requester asking if the feature will be available in the next release. Replied replied that it would be available in the next beta release. I then got another email back asking a second question, if there was anything required to test this feature. I reply back with the location of the documentation, our testing procedures, and installation process. Then I get a another email saying, “Perfect. You rock!” With those words I knew I should brace myself for a screw up.

As predicted, right at 7:30 PM the feature request was rejected, no update or comments were given, just simply rejected. I immediately knew what the problem was, step in the release was not run, the database wasn’t migrated. This is what happens when you don’t hire smart. You will spend needless hours emailing back and forth one question at a time, back and forth like email ping pong.

If you don’t hire smart, you will find yourself repeating yourself in emails what is already in documentations, processes, systems. This is how you can easily spend all day in building, installing, testing and find out that you have to do it all over again because someone missed one step out of three.

Hire smart, not experience or seniority. Hire people that get stuff done, not have elaborate reason why it doesn’t get done. Hire those that work the smartest, not the hardest. Some people compensate working smart hours for long hours, they will stay long hours doing repetitive mind numbing tasks and not think of ways to automate, streamline, or reduce those tasks. You don’t want someone to reinvent the well, you need someone that makes it turn.

Reinventing the Wheel

Reinventing the Wheel by Doviende (http://www.flickr.com/photos/doviende/)


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