What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?
He looks for people who can manage entire projects with minimal or no intervention. Otherwise he could be micromanaging and wouldn’t be able to grow his businesses!
I tried to apply Warren’s philosophy of hiring to my own business. I read a handful of books by Warren Buffet more than a decade ago. Much of the wisdom that he shared in his books stuck in my head. But, knowledge from reading books is different from street knowledge or the ability to apply your book knowledge in real life.
In real life, you might go through hundreds or thousands of people just to find a single person who can handle part of an operation with little or no intervention. With the other 99.9% of people, no matter how hungry they are, the minute you stop cracking the whip, they stop functioning!
It is so hard to apply Buffet’s wisdom, I often ask myself if it is even worth trying! Maybe it would be worth it to find someone who can handle 70% of my operation with some intervention. That solves most of the problem. Even that task is going to be very difficult to find someone to manage.
To use Buffet’s philosophy, you need to be an expert at testing people out. My favorite technique is to hand them something and see if you hear from them again. If I give someone an assignment with no due date, will they get back to me in 24 hours, in a week, three weeks, or never? This is a very useful analytic. If your new hired hand has a finished result in 12 hours and is asking for more work, that is someone who is likely to work out in the long run. Whether they can manage others is unclear, but at least they get their work done.
If you spend all of your time cracking the whip and micromanaging what everyone else does, you will never have time to grow your business. On the other hand, if you hire people who NEED to be micromanaged, and you don’t, then your will be out of business in a week which is much worse than never being able to grow your business. At least you will have a business!
The bottom line is:
If you can afford to hire people who function on their own then great. Otherwise, be prepared to micromanage your workers regardless of what Buffet says. Remember — Buffet has better access to human resources than you do, so do the best with whatever you have!
(1) According to Buffet, you need to hire people who function with little or no intervention
(2) I enjoyed reading Warren Buffet’s books, but applying his wisdom in real life is hard!
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