Citadel’s CEO Ken Griffin has long credited the firm’s success to Citadel’s most important asset: its people. In part three of this series on career development, Ken talks with Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations and author of the book, “Work Rules!” as they discuss how to manage top talent in their first six months on the job.
Editor: Once you’ve recruited someone, what’s the first six months like at Citadel? How do you set them up for success?
Ken Griffin: The most important thing we do with new hires is to give them a really tough job, a project where they could objectively fail. Most firms don’t do this. They assign simple projects to start, and then say, “well done,” let’s try something more difficult.
Here’s the problem with that approach. Neither you nor the person who joined your company really learns anything about each other. I want people to work on hard assignments. That way, we learn how the person deals with a challenge; and conversely that person understands what we expect. If it’s not working, it’s still early enough to make adjustments. If they succeed, then you’ve got somebody who’s going to have a major impact on the organization.
Laszlo Bock: That approach solves the Peter Principle – where everyone gets promoted to the level where they’re incompetent. If you give somebody a challenge on day one, you almost pre-promote that person. You understand the employee’s true capabilities. That’s brilliant.
This gets back to a Jack Welch principal, that the kindest thing a manager can do is to be honest. Don’t string people along. Assess them and let them know. The worst thing is to wait a year or two years or even ten years.