Hire to Complement Your Strengths

I once worked for a fellow named Ray. He was an combative, dedicated HR manager who had come up through the ranks without a lot of “book larnin’.” While he saw most issues in black and white terms and was rough around the edges, Ray was wise, street smart and fair in his personnel-related decisions.

When he took in yours truly on a transfer from another branch of the company, I had been recently hired with a masters degree from Cornell. Here was I, with my soft, nuanced approach to everything and full of organizational and motivational models I was hankering to try out, working for a boss with a bulldog, no nonsense style.

One day over a coffee I asked him, “Ray, why did you end up selecting me? We are so completely different, like day and night. The way we come at this work is so different too. He looked at me with a grin and said, “That’s exactly why, Ian.” You with your fancy degree and theories help to balance my shoot-from-the-hip style.

Ray was a man comfortable in his shoes. He was not at all afraid to have an employee who was stronger in some areas than he was. He understood what many managers don’t get: you can accomplish much more when (1) you are aware of what skills and knowledge you lack and (2) you consciously add to your team people who complement what you already have.

It has been over twenty-five years now and yet I have never forgotten that brief conversation with my boss. And, you know, he wasn’t the only one who was rounded out by his decision to hire me. I am still drawing on all that I learned from observing Ray in action.

© 2009 – 2016, Ian Cook. All rights reserved.

Ian Cook About Ian Cook

Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, works with managers who want to increase their effectiveness as a leader and build a stronger team. To book Ian for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail: ian@888fulcrum.com. For more articles and book reviews of interest to managers please go to: www.888fulcrum.com.