basketball court

Hiring an Entire Person

Imagine you’re the coach of a winning basketball team. You’re doing pretty well but, you’ve lost a few games that you feel could have been won if your players hadn’t been out-rebounded. When it’s time to start scouting for the next season, you find yourself trying to decide between two players.

basketball players reachingThe first player is built like Shaq (the younger, leaner Shaq) and is a rebounding machine. Unfortunately, he shoots like Shaq at the free throw line (only from the field as well), slacks off on defense, and is rumored to be a diva in the locker room.

The second player is a great all-around recruit who has high stats in points, assists, AND steals, and is known to be a hard worker and generally well-liked guy. The only downside is that he’s built like Muggsy Bogues, and, unless you’re playing an exhibition game against a preschool team, is not likely to be pulling down any boards.

So, who do you draft? If you’re like me, you take the second player every time. It works this way in business too. You may find an area in which you feel your team is currently lacking and try to recruit to fill that specific gap. But that’s not always the best choice.

man makes basketball goalFirst, let’s discuss the reasons why you shouldn’t hire someone just to fills a skills gap. For starters, you may not need enough help in that particular area to fill an employee’s time. In a basketball game, there’s a lot more a player needs to do than just stand around under the goal, boxing out to get rebounds.

Or it could be that there’s too much of a need in one area, and one person can’t do it alone. Even if someone is the best rebounder in the world, if they’re the only one from their team under the net facing down five other guys, their chances of success go way down.

Finally, particularly in certain high-demand positions, an individual with a specialized skillset might not be the best fit for the team overall. They could bring an ego or simply have a personality that does not work well with your company culture. (Or they could be so lacking in other areas as to be a net drain on productivity.) In those cases, another player is a better option.

women reach for basketballSo now, let’s discuss how you can fill skills gaps in your company without making it a hyperfocus of your hiring. For starters, look at how you can train and improve the staff you already have. Rebounding stats go up when the entire team is fighting for position and going for the ball, even if no individual is a rebounding superstar.

Second, look at how other areas in which you’re stronger can be used to supplement the area of perceived weakness. To continue with our analogy, a team that struggles with offensive rebounding need not struggle so much if they improve their field goal percentage and make more of their shots on the first try.

Finally, remember that you cannot hire only part of a person; you have to take all of them, the good and the bad. Look for someone you are excited to have around for the long-term, who not only has a skillset that can be immediately useful, but for someone who can grow and develop within your company to become an indispensable MVP.