Using "Moneyball" in Hiring

It’s June and you are starting to realize which of your January hires are working out and which might need to be top-graded.  You have a limited budget but company leaders continue to implore you to hire the “A-players.” But what constitutes an “A-player?”

In a fast paced business like staffing, it’s the candidate that senior leadership can look at a resume and easily “check off” their approval.  Most of these approved resumes will consist of two things: previous experience and a stellar track-record. In the staffing industry, it’s simple – who can make your company the most money? The problem with hiring those A-Players is that it’s hard to attract them to your organization. Either they aren’t looking, or you’re losing out to SalesForce and other Fortune 500 companies because they have outrageous base salaries and a brand name that dwarfs yours.  So how do you compete? 

A similar dilemma was described in the movie, Moneyball.  If you have not seen the movie, the Yankees (baseball’s most valuable organization) obtained the best players by offering exorbitant salaries to players who have performed in the past, while the Oakland A’s (baseball’s least valuable organization) faced pressure to compete with a fraction of the budget.  

“If we try to play like the Yankee’s in here, we will lose to the Yankee’s out there.”

Their problem was not their budget, but rather the way they approached building out a team. They took the same approach as the Yankee’s, placing excessive value on batting average and considering unverifiable factors like how fans would perceive the players. Eventually, the Oakland A’s abandoned the traditional approach and instead relied on potential through determining how each player fit into “the system” (among other variables) and boiling down several attributes into a single number.   

People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws: age, appearance, personality...everyone else undervalues them...

So how do we apply the "Moneyball" concept in recruiting?

Like with Moneyball, far too many companies with low institutional value place excessive value on past performance. In order to implement a Moneyball-inspired approach to your hiring process, you have to take a step back and truly understand what kind of person thrives and what kind of person withers within your organization.  There is no one-size fits-all solution across all staffing companies.

Step 1 - Understand what kind of people fail in your organization

Exit interviews are key in determining where mistakes were made during the hiring process. By understanding why certain candidates failed, despite having a proven track record in their previous roles, you gain a better understanding of which factors, such as leadership or company culture, truly impacted their performance.

Step 2 - Understand what kind of people succeed in your organization

Analyze the average day of the top performers in your company. What are their working habits? How do they prioritize their day? How do they approach the relationship with their customers? Then, look at their soft skills. Do they have a good attitude? Are they extremely coachable? How do they make/break habits?

Step 3 - Map out and identify the patterns

By capping off the two ends of the spectrum in your organization, you can fill the gaps in your hiring process without bias, effectively finding the “sweet spot” similar to the single number used by the Oakland A’s to develop their championship team.

The point is that every organization has a different approach to achieving success, just like every individual has a different approach to achieving success. Just because someone was successful in their previous role at a different company does not mean that success will translate in your company (if you don't believe us, just check out the MLB's worst contracts). By determining the characteristics that matter to your organization and weighting them according to what’s most important, you can create your own “Moneyball” approach to hiring. 

Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States