By Mark Fenner
Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along for a company to hire someone who looks like a “superstar.” This person has a great reputation in the industry, a great track record, and for whatever reason, they’re on the market at the same time you’re looking to fill a key position.
Should you do it? Should you hire the star? The answer is … maybe.
It’s easy to get overeager – or starstruck, if you will – when it comes to the chance to add someone like this to your team. Our advice is to slow down, put your emotions aside, and look at this as analytically as you do any other major hire. We recommend the following steps:
First, do you have any internal stars or potential stars of your own who could move into that key position? Not only does it cost much less to hire internally, but external hires pose a greater risk of failure. And the higher the level of the position filled externally, the greater the risk.
Why? The outsider, who may have done a fantastic job in a similar role elsewhere, just may not fit into your company’s culture. And they come into their new position without the relationships that may have been a key to their previous success.
Second, do you really need that position filled by that person right now? Or are you just trying to find a way to get the superstar into your organization? If that’s the case, the superstar could end up being a square peg that won’t fit into your round hole, because as good as he or she may be, they just don’t work in that position.
Third, be realistic. Stellar performance isn’t always portable. For instance, star performers whose positions require consistent cooperation and collaboration with others have a hard time maintaining their high performance in a new organization. It may require a significant time investment and some mentoring for the new person to establish relationships and begin to replicate the conditions that fostered his or her original success.
Fourth, don’t be too eager. In your rush to get an available superstar on board, you might be tempted to shortcut your normal selection process. You need to treat this hire like any other, with all the background and reference checks, thorough interviewing, and personality, abilities, and interests testing. Maintaining the integrity of your normal selection process will pay off, regardless of how much you may be chomping at the bit to land the superstar.
Finally, if you do hire the superstar, be careful in how you present this person to your company. Don’t build him or her up to the point that it creates jealousy or resentment among existing employees. Not only does it make it difficult for your new hire to live up to the hype, but some employees may consciously or unconsciously try to sabotage the new person’s performance. It is up to your superstar hire to build the credibility themselves, without you forcing it on your team.