Great People Decisions | Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

Summary of: Great People Decisions: Why They Matter So Much, Why They are So Hard, and How You Can Master Them
By: Claudio Fernández-Aráoz


Dive into the world of ‘Great People Decisions’, where author Claudio Fernández-Aráoz reveals the secrets crucial to mastering the skill of making great people decisions. This book will teach you the importance of finding the right people for the right roles and how this skill can majorly impact your career and organizational success. Discover the benefits that great people decisions bring to organizations, and learn about the common factors that lead to poor decision-making, such as procrastination, herding and psychological biases. The author equips you with the tools and techniques necessary to make better judgments and will guide you in making effective people decisions in any organization.

Mastering People Decisions

To truly succeed in business, one must recognize the significance of great people decisions. Identifying and placing the right individuals in fitting roles can propel both personal and organizational advancement. Contrary to popular belief, the skill to make sound people decisions can be learned, rather than merely relying on gut feelings or intuition. Developing this crucial ability opens doors to a wider range of opportunities and collaboration.

Everyone craves the inside scoop on achieving business success, but most advice falls short in addressing one crucial aspect: the art of making people decisions. Understanding how to identify great individuals and place them in roles where they thrive is vital on your road to triumph.

While factors like genetics, education, and personality do contribute to an individual’s success, people decisions arguably carry even more weight. As your career advances, you will likely oversee larger teams, making it imperative to assign the right individuals to the right positions for optimal productivity and effectiveness.

Furthermore, no one possesses unlimited potential. As emphasized by career expert Marcus Buckingham, personal growth and success demand the support of others who can supplement your skills and propel you forward. Developing the essential skill of making people decisions enhances your capacity to collaborate with a variety of talents.

Regrettably, many fail to nurture this invaluable ability, mistakenly assuming that people-judgment relies on unteachable intuition. This belief is far from accurate; in reality, the competence to judge someone’s fit for a specific role or team is a learnable skill.

To capitalize fully on the rewards brought by excellent people decisions, one must strive to master this skill. With dedication and practice, you’ll unlock a world of benefits—for both yourself and your organization—that propel you closer to the heights of success.

Mastering Effective People Decisions

A remarkable insight from Peter Drucker, the father of business excellence, reveals that executives make effective people decisions only 33 percent of the time. This is a disconcerting statistic, considering the immense impact of having the right people in the right roles on a company’s success. For instance, acquiring business ventures, reacting to competition, and making strategic mergers all demand specific skill sets that no single individual is likely to possess. As a result, companies must prioritize assembling the right teams to succeed in various aspects of their operations.

Jim Collins, a renowned business expert, further emphasizes that hiring the ideal team is crucial for any organization. He asserts that until 90 percent of a company’s roles are filled with the right people, making the best hires should be its top priority. In fact, the growing importance of effective people decisions is most evident in fast-growing industries like biotechnology, media, entertainment, and software. These sectors value the quality of their employees far more than their physical assets. For example, it is not cutting-edge equipment that produces exceptional software, but talented programmers.

Therefore, companies and managers must hone their skills in making people decisions to ensure their success, not only in the present but also in the rapidly evolving future.

Unraveling People Decision Dilemmas

The challenge of making great people decisions often stems from the scarcity of exceptional candidates and the difficulty in assessing their suitability for specific roles. While “hard” skills are easier to evaluate, soft skills, particularly those needed for managerial positions, are harder to discern from resumes. Moreover, hiring the perfect candidate now doesn’t guarantee their continued success, as changing roles and circumstances may render them less effective.

Making great people decisions is crucial in advancing both one’s career and company. However, many individuals struggle with these decisions due to multiple factors, including the scarcity of truly outstanding candidates. Given the enormity of the job market, it’s statistically more likely for hiring managers to end up choosing an average candidate instead of an exceptionally high-performing one.

Besides this scarcity issue, the process of accurately assessing a candidate’s suitability for a particular role can be rather complicated. Determining whether an applicant has the necessary hard skills for a job is generally achievable, but evaluating their soft skills poses a more significant challenge. Many roles, particularly those in management, demand a specific set of soft skills that are not easily identifiable in resumes. For instance, how can one determine a candidate’s capacity to handle team conflicts and act as a negotiator from their CV alone?

Another aspect to consider is the potential for roles to evolve over time, which could lead to a once-perfect candidate becoming less suitable. Imagine hiring an expert CEO for a startup who excels at scaling and growing businesses. However, when new competitors emerge, and the business starts to experience a decline, the company would require an innovative and strategic CEO who can outthink rivals. Suddenly, the initially perfect CEO appears less equipped for the task at hand.

Considering these challenges, successfully making people decisions necessitates a deeper understanding of the candidate pool and the potential for evolving roles. By addressing these concerns, decision-makers can improve their hiring choices to ensure long-term success.

Overcoming Biases in Decision-Making

While we may believe ourselves to be rational beings, the reality is that our minds are not perfect and are susceptible to various biases. When making decisions, especially regarding people, we are prone to procrastination and herding. Procrastination can lead to delaying difficult choices, causing further harm, while herding compels us to follow the majority opinion even if we believe it to be incorrect. Additionally, factors like candidates’ motivations and recruiters’ biases further complicate the decision-making process, resulting in suboptimal outcomes.

We often assume that we make choices by systematically assessing available options through a rational lens. However, our minds are not as flawless as we might like to believe; we are frequently influenced by psychological biases that impact how we think and make decisions. In the context of making decisions about people, such as hiring and evaluating employees, two prevalent biases we encounter are procrastination and herding.

Procrastination involves delaying action until it becomes absolutely necessary. In people decisions, this manifests when an employer knows a struggling employee should be let go but puts off the tough decision, ultimately causing even more harm. Herding, on the other hand, refers to the tendency to feel more comfortable following the opinions of the majority. Consequently, when deciding whom to hire, people often defer to the consensus, regardless of whether they agree with it or not.

Adding to the complexity of making people decisions are the motivations of both candidates and recruiters. Candidates may find themselves in desperate situations, needing a job or seeking career advancement, leading them to exaggerate or even lie to secure a position. Astoundingly, one poll discovered that 95% of college-age individuals admitted they would lie to land a job. Meanwhile, recruiters’ incentives also play a role, as hiring is sometimes influenced by nepotism, favors, and arrogance, resulting in companies employing individuals unfit for their assigned roles.

Addressing these biases and motivations is essential to make better decisions about people and improve overall outcomes for individuals and organizations alike.

Mastering Timely People Decisions

To make great people decisions, it is crucial to identify when change is needed and act promptly. Evaluate your team’s competencies and future needs to avoid procrastination and its detrimental effects. This mindset will enable your organization to adapt effectively and ensure long-term success.

First and foremost, recognizing when it’s time for a change is the key to making excellent people decisions. Procrastination, a psychological bias we often fall prey to, can hold us back from making crucial decisions at the right moment. In today’s fast-paced world, such delays can lead to disastrous consequences. For example, persisting with an underperforming manager might result in the market leaving your organization behind.

To prevent this, organizations must act decisively when it becomes evident that change is necessary. This may involve letting people go, which could be unpopular, but it’s essential to be honest and take prompt action.

The ability to determine when a change is called for requires managers to continuously evaluate their teams. Assessing what the team needs at present and in the future is an essential exercise. Begin by scrutinizing your team’s competencies. Do you have high-performing individuals, managers with potential, or successors for your executive team within your current staff? If the answer is no, it’s time to consider making adjustments.

Even if your team excels in the present, maintaining this performance in the future is not guaranteed. Therefore, it is vital to look ahead and anticipate future requirements when making people decisions. A team that performs exceptionally well during a market downturn may not necessarily be the best fit when the situation improves and your organization emerges stronger.

To sum up, understanding when to implement change is a crucial aspect of making sound people decisions. Armed with this knowledge, you are now better equipped to identify who you should be looking for in your organization’s journey to continued success.

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