In most walks of life, establishing a clear focus is a good thing, and the sharper the focus the better. However, when it comes to employee recruiting and hiring to build a high performing team or workforce, I’d like to suggest that a narrow or laser-like focus might not be the best approach and can be unnecessarily limiting.

I’m always intrigued in learning about different professional sport teams’ strategies as they prepare for their respective Leagues’ drafts. A professional sport’s amateur draft is one of its two principle mechanisms for recruiting and “hiring” its work force. Their broad strategic philosophies can probably be clumped into two main categories: drafting players to address clear needs or “plugging a hole,” and drafting the best player available regardless of their specific needs at that time.

This is a classic dilemma. Should a team draft a player who may fill a known and defined need, or take the best player available, even though that “best” player may be at a position where they are not currently in pressing need? This is a dilemma because it’s always easier to build a work force when you hire to fill specific needs. It’s easier. But is it more effective at building winning teams and organizations? Is it applicable to non-sports organizations like yours? It is an interesting debate and perhaps one without a clear-cut winner.

I’d like to argue the case for taking the best player available and its broader applicability to work organizations. In our non-sports businesses and organizations, it is unconventional and certainly less practical to simply hire the best player irrespective of the fit between skill and experience and a particular opening. I wrote that it is easier for sports team to draft to fill specific needs. What is true in professional sports franchises is even more true in organizations where HR departments are often laser focused on meeting an internal customers’ explicit specifications. I know from conversations with many managers that they often don’t believe they have the luxury to take the “best player available” given the pressing need to backfill a particular position or address a critical staffing need.

"I’d rather hire the inexperienced candidate with the winning mind set and help him learn what he needs to about my business, than hire the experienced and credentialed person who may not be able or willing to Un-learn things that will not serve him well in my organization."

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