18 month rule

The 18 Month Rule for Hiring

I encourage my clients to apply the “18 Month Rule” when they are looking to hire a senior manager for one of their business functions.

The 18 Month Rule is one of my own principles, loosely related to Amazon’s “Bar Raiser” principle.

Think about where you want your team to be in 18 months’ time in terms of team size, sophistication, and level of performance.

Hire someone who has already operated at that level. Ideally, someone who has taken a team on that growth journey from where you are now, up to the next level of performance.

When it comes to hiring people, past performance is the best predictor of future performance.
My 18 Month Rule means hiring someone who has climbed that mountain before. They know how to navigate the tricky parts of that climb and can pull your team up to the next level.

But a word of warning! Be wary of hiring someone from a very large “big brand name” enterprise company who had the luxury of a sophisticated support infrastructure around them and never learned how to design and build that structure themselves.

A better hiring fit would be someone who built a team up from the same stage you are at right now and can replicate the growth journey you want to achieve over the next 18 months.

Note: Amazon’s “Bar Raiser” principle means that every new hire must preserve and raise the performance bar of the team. For Amazon, “raising the bar” means hiring candidates who perform better than at least 50% of the existing employees in similar positions. In essence, they will lift the average level of performance of the team they are joining.

Note: If your team is performing strongly, and you don’t want to rock the boat, you might choose to promote someone from within the current team. If so, clarify the skills they will need to acquire, and provide the necessary training for them to excel at what the role will require in 18 months.

I have a quote: “There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.” You just need to get clear about what tradeoffs you are willing to make. The people who got you “here”, may not be the people who will get you “there”.

I’m busy building and recording my updated hiring course for managers, “Hiring A-Players“. This is just one of the many lessons included in the course. I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Until next time…