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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Talented People Know Other Talented People

It’s become part of the history of Silicon Valley that Steve often said, “Make sure you’re hiring only A-players.” Hire a few B-players, he said, and they hire Bs and Cs, and pretty soon the whole operation is going to pot.

Obviously not everyone can afford to hire only A-players. So how do you find people who are exceptionally talented and a good fit for the team?

As mentioned earlier, one of the greatest sources of talented prospects is your own employees. Really sharp people generally prefer the company of other really sharp people. When you need to hire someone, you ask the people on the team to recommend somebody they admire.

Steve said employees who did this should be given a reward for helping the company in its recruiting efforts. So he and I set up a program called Esprit de Corps, which paid employees $500 for every new hire they had recommended. We also gave each a lapel button like one awarded to World War I pilots for doing a great job in the air battles, along with a T-shirt stating they had just been awarded the badge. It was more hype than real, but it worked—reminding and encouraging others to think about A-players they could recommend.

The team member who brought the person in was held accountable to make sure the new hire had all the information needed to be successful, so the relationship was ongoing.

Eventually the new Macintosh employees’ reward program came to be used all over Apple.

Making your best talent central ...

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