Hiring for Performance

Sure – but what is Performance?

Harry Joiner made a post on his blog that made me ask myself this question. Why? here is what I posted as a comment on his blog, which by the way is an excellent blog.

Harry, I agree with the principle from Peter Drucker, however there is a big caveat: How do you define “best performers”?

Every company hires people based on their culture and their unique criteria for performance. Just like there are my aspects to what we call “intelligence”, performance- or “ability to execute” is an ambiguous term in its definition and especially in the way to measure it.

As an example during the 90s, Motorola is a company with very high performance people in terms of their engineering ability. As a consequence, the company filed an incredible number of patents and innovated in many areas creating technologies that have changed our lives.

The problem is, these high-performance thinkers/engineers/problem solvers were not very high performance marketers.

Visiting the Motorola Museum is enlightening both in the number of technologies created by Motorola (from the first square TV to the first car radio to the transponder used to communicate with Apollo XI) as well as the number of markets created by the company, only to be lost to competitors in an amazingly short timeframe.

A good example is the cellular industry – created by Motorola a few years ago, worth many billions of dollars in infrastructure, services and handsets. According to data reported by Monitor this week, Motorola has only 18% of the handset business – and this is after a strong comeback.

Is Google hiring high performance engineering talent-focused thinkers with a big ego, creating a culture that is extremely ambitious and self-confident? Can they really take on companies like Microsoft with 10 times their manpower and recognized by hiring high performance people?