Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Author Claudio Fernández-Aráoz
A: Great people decisions are great appointments, whether promoting someone from within or hiring someone from outside. Great people decisions produce extraordinary job performance, great personal development, and strong organizational morale. Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: After more than 20 years of global practice as an executive search consultant I became convinced that nothing is more important for our career success than making great people decisions, because everything we achieve as managers will depend on the people we’ve chosen. In addition, having traveled many times around the world as a consultant and a speaker, meeting thousands of CEOs, senior executives, middle managers, and young professionals, I realized two things: First, the most successful leaders are incredibly focused on people decisions. Second, most of us find these decisions extremely hard, and are quite clueless about the best practices. Q: Why are these decisions so hard?
A: Great people decisions are very hard because we have the wrong brain and the wrong education. When making people decisions, we fall pray into a series of unconscious psychological biases, such as surrounding ourselves with similar people with whom we feel naturally comfortable. Many of these biases were very effective for our primitive ancestors, but they are no longer useful for building great teams which require complementary and highly sophisticated skills. On top of this, most of us have not studied how to make great appointments, despite their crucial importance. Q: But can you actually learn how to make great people decisions?
A: Of course you can! In spite of what most people think, making great appointments is not an art or the result of an intuition or a gut feeling. It is a craft, and a discipline, that can be learned and should be learned for our career success. Q: How can you measure the impact of great people decisions?
A: For knowledge-intensive jobs, the difference between the productivity of an average worker and a top performer can be in the range of 1,000% or more. That is the value of making great people decisions! At the organizational level, they are the foundational condition for building lasting greatness, and the most important controllable factor for company value. Q: What would be your three recommendations to master these decisions?
A: They are about awareness, knowledge, and discipline. My advice would be to: 1) Avoid the usual traps – These include, among others, postponing difficult decisions, overrating capability, making snap judgments, branding, saving face, sticking with the familiar, and going with the crowd. 2) Learn the best practices – The good news is that there is a proven, step-by-step process, to master these decisions. The best practices are rigorous, yet simple and accessible. They cover the whole spectrum from deciding when a people change is needed, what to look for in a candidate, where and how to find the best candidates, how to assess them, how to attract and motivate the best, and how to successfully integrate them in the new job. 3) Invest enough time – As one CEO has put it, we spend 3% of our time recruiting, and then we need to spend 75% of the time managing our recruiting mistakes! It is hard to think about any other activity where the combination of awareness, knowledge, and discipline would have a higher return in terms of personal and organizational success.
"Fernandez-Araoz has captured the essence of building great teams with a masterful and entirely practical study of what goes into getting people selection right."
"Fernandez-Araoz does a great service with this wonderful book, teaching us how to accomplish the first task of any exceptional leader: get the right people on the bus, and into the right seats. His enduring passion, deep practical experience, and analytical methods make his approach refreshing and powerful."
--JIM COLLINS, bestselling author of Good to Great
"Too many people say 'people are our most important assets' but then don't act on it. In this important and eloquent book, Fernandez-Araoz provides compelling evidence for why making great people decisions is essential for anyone who aspires to become a great leader or build a great company. If you follow the sage advice he offers in this book, you are sure to make great people decisions."
--NITIN NOHRIA, Dean, Harvard Business School
"No matter your business or product, your service or strategy, it's all done with people. Great results only come when great people fill the right roles. In Great People Decisions, Fernandez-Araoz clears away the fog of myth and fad that has long clouded people decisions, bringing passion, sound experience, and wisdom to these all-important questions."
--DANIEL GOLEMAN, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence
"Great People Decisions is a groundbreaking, myth-busting, and standard-setting work. To prepare yourself for the dramatic workforce changes that are expected in the next decade, the first thing you should do is read this book. The second thing you should do is put Fernandez-Araoz's advice into practice immediately."
--JIM KOUZES, bestselling coauthor of The Leadership Challenge and A Leader's Legacy