Why Are You Hiring Someone Else's Broken Toys?

I grew up in Texas having garage sales. I don’t know whether it is a Texas thing… (maybe it is a Lubbock or a country thing… because in Dallas they call them "Estate" Sales.. la tee da)

What I learned about garage sales is this… 

  • One person’s garbage is another person’s gold
  • Something is worth exactly what someone will pay you for it… not what you think it is worth. 
  • You’re getting rid of the “crap" in a garage sale for a quarter because it is NOT your best stuff. 

Garage sales are the “The Isle of Misfit Toys” 

It is the doll you’re sister cut the hair off of, the stereo with the missing knob, the shirt that is threadbare or has a stain on it, the puzzle that is missing a few pieces, the pants that MC Hammer wore back in the day.

Functional… but a little damaged and kind of "off."

I see this same approach in companies and job-seekers.

If you aren’t careful you can find yourself in a world of retreads and broken or misfit toys thinking, “Hey that looks pretty good.” 

I want you to be aware of it and avoid it.

As a recruiter in the healthcare field, I see the same position open at the same company OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I also see the same candidates OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It is a revolving door. 

If a company is growing or acquiring companies, there are often openings. That's good.

But if a company isn’t growing and they always have tons of openings, it is because of constant turnover or they can’t attract anyone because of management, finances, location, etc. Ask why?

At the same time, I get to see which “people” are always on the market. You run across the same names repeatedly… and not because they’re rock stars.

They are “journeymen” and women who have landed more places than Southwest Airlines. And like Southwest Airlines… they don’t stay in one place very long before they take off.

You see this a lot with senior executives, especially in Healthcare. The problem is that their departure is NEVER their fault and always “makes sense.”  For example, he hospital is always closed or sold or their contract expired.

They are like the basketball players in who had an 8 year career in NBA, except they spent their career on 8 different teams because they were cut each year. 

Garage Sale Mentality When Hiring

Companies who are in a bind and need a “butt in the seat” ASAP, but want to go the cheap route (Hey, do you know anyone or I think I know a guy) or really don’t want to take a truthful look at the root cause for turnover, fall victim to “garage sale” mentality when hiring. 

As a result, they get professional equivalent of the stereo with no knobs, parachute pants and the doll with no hair

Here is a recent real example of this mistake.

A hospital (who shall not be named) had been shut down five years ago was purchased and reopened last year by a Physician Investor. Like most doctors who are excellent physicians but poor managers, he quickly burned through 2 CEO’s 2 CFOs and 2 CNO’s (Key executives) in 14 month period.

In addition to the top positions being vacant, there were several ancillary positions that were open as well. The hospital already had a bad reputationbecause of the previous closure, and even more so now because of the recent turnover.

The owner needed a leader ASAP and hopefully one that would stick.. but he was in a mind and went theft store shopping. He made a few calls and in less than a week brought on a CEO, a gentlemanI know, who is a nice guy … but a journeyman.

He is a career “interim” or who has never stayed anywhere long or achieved significant success for any period of time. He is the guy you give the wheel of the Titanic too while you go to the bathroom, next thing you know you’re floating in ice next to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Here is the problem… 

These people often consider themselves “turnaround” experts or they tell me, “I like the challenge of a hospital in trouble”

Really? I’ve come to call BS on that. Here is why.

Over a decade of seeing this I’ve come to learn these people bounce around often and don’t appear to be job hoppers because their reasons always “make sense” of things beyond their control.

Their career is a trail of closed, bankrupted or purchased or acquired hospitals pr companies (and the acquisition is not because it is successful and attractive… it is because it was acquired in a garage sale) 

Are They A Hero or Goat.

Here is why these types of people like bad situations or troubled facilities….  because if you have no ability to bring it back from the dead… you can’t be blamed for killing the patient.

Except they rarely save the patient.

But Then They Invite Their Friends To The Party

In the example above, the hospital asked the new journeyman CEO if he knew anyone to fill these other positions that are open. Oh he knows people all right. He is about to launch a reunion tour. 

Whatever your brand of politics, this following example works. Currently Presidential Candiate Jeb Bush is taking heat for many of the people who he has said will play a big part in his administration if elected. They are mostly people who were in his father and brother’s administration. 

Hey I get it. "I know these people." "I trust them." "Let’s get the band back together."

That’s great if your band is Van Halen (I prefer Roth over Haggar) or your team is the PayPal mafia. The group that founded Paypal together included Elon Musk (Tesla), Reid Hoffman (Linked In) and the founders of YouTube.. among others. I’ll give it to you… that’s a Dream Team that would be pretty awesome to get back together or bring in on your next gig. 

But more often than not, to these journeymen, getting the band back together means 80’s night at the Cleveland Airport Sheraton where Flock of Seagulls is rehashing their one hit record before the audience realizes.. “Hey, besides “I Ran” you all suck.

If you have a person with a track record of success and a team to support it… by all means listen to the recommendations he/she has for bringing other people on board. 

Otherwise, don’t risk your organization’s success on the remaining members of Kajagoogoo or Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Who? Exactly.

When Hiring These People Consider ….

  • Breaking the cycle.  Unless you’re hiring Bill Belichek and he is bringing the entire New England Patriots Coaching Staff… make and analyze each hire critically and independently.
  • Has this person actually been successful somewhere? Do they have wins? (or are they a garage sale, retread executive who has punched his/her ticket on a variety of train wrecks.. but hey, they’re cheap and available tomorrow?) 
  • Am I making this decision as knee jerk reaction? 
  • Are you settling for the same problem but with a different face?
  • Why do I have the turnover I do and is this person similar to the others?
  • Is this person truly the best fit or should I slow down, use them as an interim / temporary band-aid as I build the right team?
  • Does he/she have a legit team that has produced results successfully or is the team a group of average people that are comfortable with each other?

If you’re a job seeker…. all of this applies but here what to watch out for

  • Ask yourself, Why is the position open.
  • Do they have a LOT of opening that are NOT growth related
  • Why does it seem to be a revolving door at a certain position or department.
  • (If you haven’t already done so.. check out www.glassdoor.com. Simply put it’s like Yelp for companies. And if you’re an employer… you had better be on top of checking it out.) Reputation matters. 

Buying on discount or sale is a good thing… as long as what you’re buying works!


Let me know what you think.. Leave a comment below. 

PS.... NOBODY WANTS A CHARLIE IN THE BOX ! ... name that show. 

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