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Hiring Well the Next Time is the Best Revenge

Hiring mistakes are the toughest mistakes for any beverage entrepreneur to make.  I’ve spoken in the last two days to two highly successful entrepreneurs in the industry, and they were both bemoaning the fact that they had made two significant mis-hires. They weren’t happy, and the pain wasn’t going away.

Entrepreneurs make mistakes every week; it’s part of the job description. But I don’t think there’s any mistake that hurts more than a poor hire.

And it’s compounded in the beverage industry because this industry is more about people and relationships than any other I’ve ever been around. Beverage people are supportive, they talk, they recommend other resources – and as a result, we all think we are above the norm when it comes to judging character and quality talent.

As a recent Fortune article pointed out, “Especially in today’s economic tumult, business is getting to be the way sports have always been: Human capital is the whole game. ..Making judgments about people is becoming the central managerial skill.”

I handed each of these entrepreneurs the best book I’ve read on hiring, Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.  In its most helpful section, the authors review “the top ten voodoo hiring” mistakes. First among them is going on your gut instinct – a mistake I hear over and over again from other beverage entrepreneurs, and one I’ve made a few times myself.  Smart and Street point out that “gut instinct is terribly inaccurate when it comes to hiring someone” and instead prescribe a set of steps to effectively interview, screen and ultimately hire an “A team”.

But as I said to each of these entrepreneurs, these mistakes are at times inevitable, and once you’ve made one or two of them, the better you get at avoiding the pitfalls the next time.