Hiring Wisely: It's About Passion and Bringing Something to the Table


It's the Holy Grail of hiring: Finding the magic formula that will help you land the very best talent.

Everybody has a different take on how you do it, of course, but nobody has really found that formula yet -- not even the much talked about Lazlo Bock who just retired (?) after a 10 year plus stint as Google's head of People Operations.

Ongoing insights into hiring wisdom

Yes, even Google has to work pretty hard to find really good people.

My take is that experience and the ability to develop really matters, although you'll find a lot of people who disagree and have a different perspective.

In fact, there are any number of perspectives on what you should look for when you hire, and it got me to thinking that maybe I should start sharing some of the very best of those here at Talent Insider.

Paula Kerger Paula Kerger

So, consider this the first of an ongoing series of insights that I think are pretty good perspectives on what you should be looking for when you are hiring people into your own organization.

Today's insights come from Paula Kerger, the CEO and president of PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, as told to The New York TimesAdam Bryant in his weekly Corner Office column.

Looking for people who "bring something to the table"

Yes, I know that PBS operates a lot differently than most private sector businesses do, but I still think that Paula Kerger's hiring philosophy is pretty interesting and well-worth digging into. Here's how she answers the simple question, "How do you hire?"

I look for intellectual curiosity. I look for people who are passionate about what we do, because I’m in the nonprofit sector. I care about hiring people who really want to work in public media because they have a fire for it.

I also look for people who are going to bring something to the table and who will work well collaboratively, but I don’t want a group of people who just tell me what I want to hear. I just want them to tell me what I need to hear. And so I want people who are going to be comfortable doing that.

You want at least one person around the table who’s going to be the devil’s advocate, who’s always going to make sure that you don’t come to consensus too fast.

Even if you end up at the same outcome, you don’t want people walking out of the room saying, “Well, I wonder why we didn’t think of … ?

Millennials want more open, and honest, communications

My take: What I like about Paula Kerger's approach is that she really wants people who can bring different perspectives and engage in a give-and-take. Lots of CEO's talk about wanting that, but the reality is that many who say it don't really mean it -- and employees end up bearing the brunt of that.

I always note that NOBODY says they have a closed-door policy because no one wants to be that frank, but many executives who sing the praises of open and honest communications are the absolute worst when it comes to actually fostering that kind of workplace environment. They may say their door is open, but anybody who has tried to go through it knows otherwise.

This is getting to be more and more of an issue as Millennials become the largest part of our workforce. Although all generations want more communication, Millennials are demanding it and won't stay with employers who fail to practice it.

I've never worked with Paula Kerger, but I believe what she has to say about hiring and managing employees. She seems like a CEO who really wants people to be open and honest with her -- and that's someone just about everyone would want to work for.