Law of Hiring

The law of hiring states:

“Hiring an individual whose potential to perform is below the current team’s average brings down the team’s average performance”.

Conversely, “Hiring an individual who can perform better than the current team’s average increases the team’s average performance”

Why the law is important? Because the law of hiring determines your team performance. A sample calculation based on this law illustrates this point.


This means that the hiring exercise should focus on assessing a candidates potential to perform. Higher the delta, higher the influence on the team’s average. There will be times when your assessment will go wrong but at least being aware of this law allow you to take corrective measures during your next hiring gig. This awareness also help you to provide any training and mentoring facilities to the new hire.

What constitutes performance and how to assess it is not an easy task. However, it is something that you must prepare yourself, in advance, if you are the hiring manager.

The team’s overall performance depends on you. Are you listening? How have you applied this law?

11 thoughts on “Law of Hiring

  1. Very true but there can be cases where new hire with high potential may impact existing team and hence reduce current team’s average performance. New hire may also get impacted due to current average performance of team individuals and hence will also reduce current team average performance.

    My point here is to maintain equilibrium resulting in a stable and balanced team.We should not focus not an individual only but also team and organization as whole.

    • Thanks Abhishek for your comments. Can you explain a little more about equilibrium and how company and specifically hiring managers will achieve the same?

      I have seen situations where individual performance goes down if he joins a a bad team. And where individual performance goes up by being around some smart folks.

      However, a hiring manager needs to do lot more thinking when a new recruitment is being planned and how the team will improve on whatever metrics that are set.

  2. Hemant, I beg to differ with this analysis. It is most likely the otherway around. If the Hiring focuses on person based approach there are higher chances of the Team’s average performance going down irrespective of the ability of the new recruit. This is in a scenario when the Average performance is not upto the mark. However, on the other side if there is significantly good performance the possibility that a bad new recruit will automatically reduce the average. I was recently with a prospect who had a one point solution to all problems (and there were many) “Hire a CEO or a GM who will take care”. The problem identified by him was that as a promoter he was having too much to handle. With this the accountability is centered around one person, whereas the team is neither following a process nor are they made accountable for key deliverables. In the same manner, depending totally on technology while not looking at the individual ability (and hence collective ability) is also not the answer. I had another discussion wherein there is a total collapse of internal systems, however, someone suggested a single point agenda, bring in SAP to resolve all problems in the organization. That’s how things are. Holistic approach requires digressing each and every aspect and that is a costly affair as many think, unfortunately they do not look at the leakage which comes with not looking at things in a holistic manner. (Frankly, I am yet to understand the real meaning of Holistic approach either)

  3. Thanks RK for your comments, they always highlights different and interesting perspective.

    There are lot of other qualities that needs to be looked at when hiring a new person. It gets complicated when the new position at senior levels or if there are higher role expectations.

    My key point is that there has to be a suitable preparation by hiring manager and the idea is that on boarding of new hire will improve performance or other key metrics that the company care about. Hiring manager must know them.

    AS you mentioned, if there are higher expectations from the role, there is higher responsibility and preparation that a hiring manager needs to do.

  4. This law of hiring is subjective with lots of complexity and invisible roles and responsibilities , i would like to share my professional exp in auto inds lat 11 year there is no role clarity infact it is moving alongwith seniors wish and desire or else you will be lost in mass.. i do agree with you a a bad team spoils one’s prowess, 2nd average is being calculated based on numbers since we as a human who is the right authority /tool decider that the performance has gone up ..

    • The law is heavily dependent on couple of things – measuring performance and transforming it into a metrics. That itself is a huge ask.

      What you called “senior wish” is evident in many industries and prepares junior and mid-level managers badly as they acquire senior roles.

  5. Hi There, this is the first time i am commenting but i am extensively involved in hiring and i thought to share my inputs. I somehow agree to the overall discussion in one way or the other, its important not to look at just an inidvidual and also the “Wholistic Picture,” but at the same time, how many of us are actually wieghing into the wholistic view while evaluating an inidividual during the interview process. While its important for a hiring manager to evaluate the current status of her team and ensure to have the best approach while hiring to address most of the issues to a large extent. We all must remember the law if diminishing returns irrespective of how efficient the hiring outcomes are. Its important for me as a hiring manager to not repeat the lessons learnt, to find new meothodologies of evaluating an individual on the 3 Cs or Copeability, Capability and Committment. These are concepts that lives a dormant life with most of us, but it absolutely makes sense to dust them out before we start the hiring.

    • And based on the quality of your comment, I suggest you should comment more often ­čÖé

      Measuring performance of a candidate is a very complex subject. There are several factors that influence the same – team composition, nature of the job, experience level and the list goes on. This is what makes the job of hiring manager difficult. And hence there should be some amount of preparation and preparedness required.

      However, once the hiring manager has assessed the performance of the candidate, the law of hiring can be applied with that assessed performance.

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