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Passion, People and Principles

Great People Decisions

post # 395 — June 26, 2007 — a Managing post

Claudio Fernandez Araoz, a senior partner at executive recruiting firm Egon Zehnder International, has just published a book offering a manager’s guide to Great People Decisions.

As the subtitle suggests, it’s about why people decisions matter so much, why they are so hard and how you can master them. I’m not sure one book alone will make any of us more skilled at people decisions, but this one is a good introduction to and summary of some of the latest research in the area, as well as the author’s own extensive experience. It will make you think, and you’ll enjoy the personal stories. Araoz comments:

“Nothing is more important for your career success than making great people decisions. Just think about it: once you become a manager, everything you do will depend on the people you’ve chosen: your results, your performance, your chances of being promoted, your risks…In short, your career success.”

“However, we rarely get any type of effective education for these crucial skills! Making great people decisions is a craft, and a discipline. It can be learned, and it should be learned.”

What have YOU learned about the craft, skill and discipline of making better people decisions. How did you learn it?


Wally Bock said:

The two main things that I’ve noticed about those who make great people decisions is that 1) the recognize that it’s important and 2) they put in the time to do it right. That plays out differently at different levels and in different organizations.

At the first line supervisor level it means being around your people enough to be familiar with what they’re good at and what they’re weak at and to help them develop.

At higher organizational levels in larger organizations it usually means reviewing files and evaluations, taking time to meet people, and discussing capabilities and possibilities.

Organizations can institutionalize this. GM did under Alfred Sloan. GE and P&G do it today.

posted on June 26, 2007

Charlie said:

Interesting book.

We may have the freedom to choose, but without the right knowledge on what to choose means that it’s useless.

posted on June 27, 2007

Geoff said:

I learned how to dramatically lower the cost of one kind of people decision error.

The Trusted Advisor offers the tip, “Don’t tell lies, or even exaggerate. At all. Ever.” By extension, my tip to the recipient of a lie is “don’t give the liar a second chance, no matter how much they beg or cry for foregiveness.” I haven’t encountered a liar who didn’t eventually yield to the temptation to try and slip one past me a second time. So I institued a “one strike and you’re out” policy, which many see as cruel.

That freed up the time I previously spent cleaning up the mess and paying the often expensive cost of the second lie to focus on developing the skills and sharing the rewards of the people I came to trust.

posted on June 27, 2007

Nancy said:

It would be great to learn from the best. I’m sure that the book is informative enough to show to everyone who reads it the importance of people decision.

posted on June 28, 2007

Ted Harro said:

My biggest learning in watching several executives tackle this issue over the past year – do it EARLY. A lot of leaders new into an executive role, in their natural urge to “get things done”, skip past the people decisions to building a strategy, etc. Then they realize halfway through the strategy development that they have (at least partly) the wrong people. IF they have the courage and energy to deal with the sticky people stuff then, they have to backtrack on the strategy or “sell” their progress to the new entries to their team.

My friend’s maxim is “Go slow to go fast.” While we shouldn’t rush people decisions, they should be high on the agenda – and should often precede other significant moves.

posted on June 29, 2007