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Great People Decisions: Why They Matter So Much, Why They are So Hard, and How You Can Master Them Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0470037263 ISBN-10: 0470037261 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470037261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470037263
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Author Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

Q: Can you define great people decisions?
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.

Review

Praise for Great People Decisions

"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."
--JACK WELCH

"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


More About the Author

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz is one of the top global experts on hiring and promotion decisions. He was repeatedly chosen by Business Week as one of the most influential search consultants in the world.

He is a frequent keynote speaker at business gatherings in the Americas, Europe and Asia, as well as at leading business schools. His personal advice has been sought by the CEOs of several of the largest companies on earth, as well as by many progressive governments.

He is a senior adviser of the leading executive search firm Egon Zehnder International and has been a member of its global executive committee for over ten years. He was the founding leader of the firm's management appraisal practice, later became the leader of its professional development, and finally the leader of the firm's intellectual capital development. Prior to that he worked for McKinsey & Co. in Europe.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to become a great manager.
JB
The author offers up a comprehensive understanding of the biggest challenge in most businesses -- how to get the right people in the right jobs.
B. Fryer
The book is easy to read and understand; yet rich in content and advice for practical application.
V. Wong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kenn Dahl on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There were a number of things that impressed me about this book. Starting with the author: He is one of the top executives at one of the best worldwide executive search firms, an in demand lecturer, and an accomplished writer with famous articles in Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review (directly on the subject of people decisions). So he has an impressive resume, but the book makes clear that he has spent the last 20 years dedicated to becoming a world-class expert in this area. The book is backed up with many references and summaries to the best academic and industry studies, this is not just one man's war stories (although there are interesting stories to back up points) but it is instead a carefully thought out and researched framework utilizing his own extensive expertise but also that of other experts in the field. He is successful at taking a very fuzzy subject and organizing it, simplifying it, making it understandable and actionable, and even providing key "watch outs" based on his experience.

It is interesting reading with a number of interesting points made along the way. Some of my favorites include a description of how dramatic an impact a good vs. bad CEO can make on a company's performance, and as a side note he remarks that this may justify relatively high CEO pay (although he is careful to point out that it does not justify some of the outlandish packages that have been in the press in recent years). My other personal favorite was a comparison of the disciplines of personnel decisions and advertising, the later of which decades ago was also thought of as purely an "art" but over time has become more and more based on "science", and his prediction that personnel decisions will also bend to science over time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gwendolyn Doden on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Great People Decisions (Claudio Fernandez Araoz)
A clear statement up front: This book ought to be mandatory reading for human resources professionals and managers, from first time managers to the Board Room. It is the "nuts and bolts" of getting the right people into the right jobs and ensuring that people are the solution and not the problem.
If you are already a senior executive, I would recommend that you rapidly get beyond the first 50 pages, which are mostly about why great appointments matter so much - certainly not unimportant but somewhat tedious when you are searching for a quick answer. From there on the author underpins his observations from practice with evidence-based examples of what works and what does not and the book becomes much more of a "how to" handbook. There are easy to use tools like a decision tree matrix and clear advice on basic principles for when to hire, how to hire, integrating a new recruit, how to recognize potential when you see it, promotions and how all of these issues tie into the bottom line success of a company. He puts a price on the value of good decisions and the cost of wrong ones. Fernandez Araoz is generous in sharing the learning from his own experiences - the good and the bad - and provides the data to back up the conclusions he draws from applied theory. In essence, Fernandez Araoz delivers a sequential step-by-step guide to getting tough people decisions right the first time. It is reassuring to know that this is a skill that can be learned and polished.
A key take away is his advice on timing in terms of making people decisions. He is absolutely right when he talks about the common error in searching for the "ideal" candidate.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Fryer on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for every hiring manager and every HR person. The author offers up a comprehensive understanding of the biggest challenge in most businesses -- how to get the right people in the right jobs. When the wrong people are hired, whole teams and companies can feel the negative effects for years. Araoz carefully deconstructs the many reasons why the most important job in business management is so poorly done. Then he describes in fine detail how to do it right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JB on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read this book in my EMBA class and it opened my eyes to the importance of making the right decisions when hiring. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to become a great manager.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By V. Wong on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you read one book about making great people decisions, this is the book you will want to read. The book is easy to read and understand; yet rich in content and advice for practical application. It's a book for anyone who manages people or is responsible for hiring or developing others.

It's truly one of the best books I've ever read on Talent Management.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Russell Clarkson on September 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was once told by a successful CEO that any hiring decision started at $1,000,000. Even for a front line worker; when you account for hiring costs, training, salary and benefits, then take into account the average number of years they will stay with the company, it is not hard to see how easy it is to reach that amount. Imagine now the costs of bringing on a middle manager or senior executive and you understand why hiring will be the most important part of your job. Claudio Fernandez Araoz pulls aside the curtain and lays out an approach that is not magic, gut instinct or smoke and mirrors, but a rigorous approach that allows you to build a high performance organization.

I have used this material in my current position to build a team that has redesigned the way our company delivers service. It not only allowed me to find the strongest candidates, but it helped to integrate them into the organization in a positive and productive manner. This book shines a light on the most important decision you will make as a manager and delivers its content in clear and consistent manner that is devoid of the jargon that weighs down other books on this topic.
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