Attract the Team that Fuels Your Growth

My experience using Geoff Smart’s book “Who” to solve our #1 Problem – Finding and Attracting A-Players

In my desire to deliver the type of client experience to write home about, finding and retaining top talent became my ultimate quest. As the VP of Client Experience, my number one challenge was clear – how to attract a team of A-players who would not only meet but exceed our clients’ expectations, who loved working with each other, and were passionate about bringing their best to the table each day. Enter Geoff Smart’s transformative book, “Who,” a game-changer in our hiring process.

Smart’s book takes the mystery out of hiring, a step-by-step data-informed guide to attracting and retaining the type of employees who catalyze growth. With a conversational tone and a wealth of practical insights, “Who” wasn’t just a book; it was a mentor, guiding me through the intricacies of identifying, attracting, and retaining top-tier talent. The process wasn’t routine, it was a revelation.

How We Attracted A-Players

In our recent quest for a Website Project Manager, we followed Smart’s methodology to the letter. The process helped us clearly define the role’s expectations and the qualities we sought in an A-player. We learned to go beyond the resume, conducting rigorous interviews that dug deep into the candidate’s track record and potential cultural fit.

The Surprising Impact of Reference Checks on Attracting A-Players

One key takeaway was the importance of reference checks. Smart emphasized connecting with former colleagues, bosses, and direct reports to get a comprehensive view of the candidate. I most likely would have skipped this step at the end of what was already a rigorous interview process – but the insights from these conversations offered three tremendously valuable results.

First, it removed a few candidates from the board. Second, for my ultimate hire, it confirmed and added dimension to the insight we achieved through the interviews. Third, and most surprisingly it went a long way in setting me up for successful leadership by providing candid insights from prior colleagues and managers. I got to start the first 90 days with my A-Player feeling like I already learned lessons from her prior leaders on how to cut her loose and let her fly.

Unexpected Benefits of Scorecard Position Descriptions on Attracting A-Players

Another transformative aspect of Smart’s method on attracting A-Players is the Scorecard style position description. The work that goes into preparing outcomes expected by the role in the next 1-3 years in the form of smart and measurable goals is tremendous. Not going to downplay it – it’s a ton of work. But it offers applicants a level of clarity on what is expected, so they come to the application process already saying, oh yeah, that’s me. If self-screening is not valuable enough, the scorecard then serves as an anchoring document through each quarter you’re an A-Player is in the seat, and at annual review, the scorecard is rewritten collaboratively for the outcomes to achieve in the next 1-3 years. That level of clarity makes the work of leading and managing much, much simpler.

How “Who” Interviews Changed the Game

I’ll also mention my colleagues weren’t convinced about the exhaustive interview structure. It was unlike anything we experienced before. A chronological deep dive into a person’s career seemed at first glance to be a waste of time, but as the book advises, it gets a candidate going and provides an incredible amount of data about your candidates to assist you in developing a fair view of their strengths and weaknesses and story over time. When you’re interviewing multiple candidates, this level of detail seems like a lot, but when getting it right means the difference between success and tremendous losses – it’s worth the work.

The impact on our team and client satisfaction has been phenomenal. Our new Project Manager seamlessly integrated into the team, bringing a fresh perspective and a drive for excellence. The “Who” methodology wasn’t just a hiring strategy; it became a philosophy that reshaped our approach to attracting A-Players.

Thanks to Geoff Smart’s insights, I’ve not only addressed my #1 problem but have set the stage for ongoing success – with ‘Who’ as our compass, the journey is not just about hiring: it’s about turning challenges into triumphs, ordinary into extraordinary, and clients into advocates.

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