Having worked in the talent management field for over 25 years I am used to the discussions about hiring top talent. High Potentials. The Top 5%. The Best.
Everyone assumes that this is the route to go and that these "top percenters " are what the company needs to compete and to succeed. Think again!
Sometimes you want the people who are in the middle of the pack...that majority in the bell curve.
Here's why the top talent is not necessarily the best route to go:
1. Cost: Top talent costs more and you don't always get your ROI. Every new staff member has a settling in period and a learning curve often referred to as the "first ninety days." During this time period they are no more effective than anyone else. If you have them in a management-training program where they are moving around it may be much longer before you can get a clear picture of their real performance and contribution.
2. Competition: You hired them to be your competitive advantage, but they also compete with everyone in the company. They need to show that they are better and don't "play well with others". It's hard to have a high performing team if everyone is focused on their own goals and impressing the boss.
3. Cultural Fit: They are more likely to try to force fit the company culture to their own personality rather than to try to blend in. They have been successful through their own initiatives and not through collaboration with colleagues. In fact, if not managed well, they can be a divisive influence or be labeled a "prima donna".
So before you hire consider carefully what profile of candidate you need. Assessment tools such as the Predictive Index can give you a better understanding of the job needs and how your potential candidate's motivating needs and behaviors fit that job requirement.
In my experience it's often the middle of the pack folks who try harder, share with colleagues and want to learn and take direction. The team goals can take precedence over their own personal goals as long as they feel they are making a valued contribution.
Craft a well-balanced team and the cumulative results can outshine the results of a top talent hire.