Hiring & Firing

Maybe I have given the impression that anyone hiring someone must make the ‘perfect hire.’ That is Mission Impossible. I think you can avoid some bad hires through an intelligent hiring process. But the ‘perfect’ hire? That’s a rare thing. What is realistic is this: Make the best hire possible. Many things influence that: situation, city, salary, level of play, and so forth. There is no ideal situation, so there is no ideal hire. Are the New York Yankees the ‘ideal’ situation? Yes, but you must also factor in pressure, expectations, scrutiny, mass media. That counts.

A key in all this is having the administrator HELP the man he has hired. I once hired someone and, one day into the whole thing, I knew I had made a hiring mistake. I felt he was not suited for the situation and I found I did not like him personally. I said to myself, “Well, Mr. Smart Guy, you really blew it here.” Now what? Let him fail? Fire him? That’s crazy. So, I said to myself, “Get off your fanny and start helping this man succeed.” A miracle happened: He had success, we worked better together every day and, at the end, we became close, close friends.

I was the beneficiary of this, which is how I learned what to do. Don Boucher, head of Peace Corps Chile, hired me to coach the Chilean National Basketball Team. Oh, I’m sure I was not the perfect man for the job. Yes, I was young (35), had good experience (5 years as head coach at the NCAA level) and spoke Spanish well. But that’s just the door-opener. Well, Boucher worked with me EVERY DAY, and many evenings, to see that I had success in Chile. He ran interference for me, paved the way for me and … made things easy for me. I owe him, big time!

Then, when I came to Bologna, I’m sure my GM, who hired me, Gianluigi Porelli, had some serious doubts about who he had hired: the typical dumb-ass American. But he had lunch with me every day, dinner with me every night, was there for just about every practice, couseling me, shaping me, tutoring me. He might not have liked me at the start but we became like brothers and I loved the man. So, yes, the hire is important … very important. But what makes the whole thing work is what the hiring administrator does after that. That’s the secret of the ‘perfect hire.’