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How to Hire Your Next A-Player

How to Hire Your Next A-Player

Running IntelligenceOriginally Published in Running Intelligence

For most running specialty stores, hiring just one more A-player can make a huge difference in your business. If you are weighed down with multiple responsibilities –managing your retail floor, trying to drive customer acquisition, overseeing your backroom operations – it’s time to recognize that you can’t do it alone and you need to invest the time and effort required to find a great person to share the load.

Just One A-Player Can Improve Your Business and Your Life
In my book How to Hire A-Players, I talk about the amazing impact that just one great hire can make in a business. Jody and Heather Herzog own a Fleet Feet Sports franchise in Cleveland, OH. They are a terrific, young couple who run a great business. They were able to hire good people but a bulk of the responsibility for leading their specialty retail business still fell on their shoulders. For the store to run, they still had to either do or at least closely oversee most everything that happened in the store.

Then the Herzogs found and hired Eddie, who happened to have 12 years of experience managing a competitor’s store across town. Eddie was a dream hire, and he immediately made a positive impact on their business. He had new ideas for managing inventory. He implemented new marketing programs. He began to lead the other staff.

Eddie did not just bring new ideas and energy to the business. He freed up Heather and Jody from many of the details that were bogging them down day-to-day. In other words, the business owners – the most valuable people in the business – became immediately more productive because they hired just one person they could depend upon.

That’s terrific, you say. How do I find my own Eddie to hire? Here are some ideas from my book that work in the running specialty industry:

First of all, you and your company have to adopt an A-player mindset. This means that every person in your business understands and is committed to finding and hiring A-players whenever and wherever you can find them. A lot of business people talk a good game here, but there results don’t measure up. You have to have an ongoing and consistent commitment to finding and hiring great people.

Second, you and your leadership team must interview all the time. You must be known as a business that is always interested and willing to talk to great people whether or not you have a job to fill. This regular interviewing activity is the only way to develop a strong pipeline of talent.

Third, you have to build a “farm team” of talented people who could work for you some day. This means you have a continually updated list of A-players who are vetted and ready to come to work for you if and when you need them. This farm team becomes the source of your next A-player and your strategic talent advantage over your competitors.

Putting This into Action
How do you put these ideas into action? Here is great story from another client of mine in your industry. One of my clients really needed to hire a great retail floor leader, and ideally they wanted someone with retail experience. We figured out the “A-Player Profile” for this role, which meant we defined exactly the kind of person this business needed to create the results they wanted in this role. Then, they started to publicize their desire to hire their next A-player. The store owners did a great job of talking with everyone they knew about their business and the kind of person they were looking to hire. When one of the owners told a customer about the kind of growth they were experiencing and the type of person they wanted to hire, he immediately responded by saying, “Have I got the person for you!” Two days later, his girlfriend contacted these owners. She was a General Manager for a large retail chain. She was also burned out from working long hours, had no time to spend with her daughter, and wanted to make a career change. My clients offered her comparable money, better hours, and the opportunity to turn her passion for running and fitness into a career. She took the job and it is proving to be one of the best hires they ever made.

Finding your next A-player does not have to be an expensive proposition. It requires less money than it does focus, time, and commitment. You have to clarify what an A-player looks like for your business. You have to figure out a system for consistently interviewing a lot of people so that you find the best people to hire. Finally, you have to relentlessly promote your desire to meet great talent to everyone that you and your employees know. If you take these steps, you will find the people you need to build the business you want.


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