two crucial activities for leadership success

Yesterday, Steve Boese posted “Onboarding for the rest of us” and referenced the employee handbook from the gaming company Valve. You may have seen this handbook posted elsewhere, but it is very worth a read. It’s fun, irreverent, and does an amazing job of helping a new hire understand how to succeed in a unique company.

Crucial Activity #1

Valve is a completely flat organization with no (ZERO) managers so I found the insights into how that works enthralling and, although, I’m not going to be changing my company’s structure anytime soon, it would be easy to share the same types of information with new hires: your first day, facts about the company, your first month, office culture, how your performance will be evaluated, your first six months, company history, what the company is good at and what it isn’t, etc.

Yes, new hires need to know where to park and where the bathrooms are and how to sign up for benefits. AND it would be a huge boost forward if they also knew the things that Valve does such a good job of sharing.

Crucial Activity #2

Onboarding is important, but the part that left me slack jawed is in a section titled, “Your Most Important Role”: Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe. Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breathing. So when you’re working on hiring – participating in an interview loop or innovating in the general area of recruiting – everything else you could be doing is stupid and should be ignored!

Pause. Let that sink in. Go read it again. That’s right. They consider getting selection right is so important to their organizational success that: 1) It’s in the new hire handbook; 2) it’s in a section titled, “Your Most Important Role”;  3) it’s more important than breathing; and 4) when you are hiring, anything else you could be doing (like your regular job) is stupid and should be ignored.

Pause. Let that sink in. Go read it again.

But Wait, There’s More

Further in, they are very clear that they understand that because their company is so unique they miss out on hiring some great folks, and they’re really ok with that. No vanilla here. They are not trying to be all things to all people – they are very clear on who they are.

When we talk about interview questions, we almost always look at what we’re asking the candidates. It’s also important to think about what we’re asking ourselves as we evaluate the candidates responses. When evaluating candidates, they ask themselves three brilliant questions: Would I want this person to be my boss? Would I learn a significant amount from him or her? What if this person went to work for our competition?

Imagine if you had the hiring bar so high that you only hired people you could learn something from; people who helped you be better. That’s very intimidating for most people so few do it. And that alone is a great reason to start. Over time, this will transform your company.

Get hiring right by making it a super priority and managing gets much, much easier. Get it wrong by treating it like a distraction and an afterthought and managing gets much, much more difficult.

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