Excerpted from The Great Game of Business.
The common wisdom is that people should prove themselves before they get promoted. I always promoted people as fast as I could. Sometimes I promoted them right out of my department. I liked giving people opportunities, and I didn't want them to get bored and stale, but I had an ulterior motive as well: it made my job a lot easier to have friends all over the company.
Tunnel vision is a big problem in business. When people spend all their time in one function, they see every issue from a single perspective. They can't appreciate other departments' needs. Walls go up. Communication is terrible. That makes it harder to accomplish anything. I got around this obstacle by getting my people jobs in other departments. In effect, I instituted a program of cross-training for the people I worked with. They learned to see different aspects of the business, and I built up my own communications network. As a result, my department could function better. We had our own support system consisting of erstwhile colleagues who understood our point of view and could give us help when we needed it.
Because I was promoting people so fast, I wound up having a lot of positions to fill. What I didn't have was time to do in-depth interviews and evaluations. So I came up with my own method of hiring: I looked for people who had been captains of their intramural teams in college. To be a captain of your intramural team, you had to be picked by your peers. So I knew they were winners, and we needed people who could be winners right off the bat, because we were operating in a real losing situation.
Did you miss the first three Myths of Management from The Great Game of Business? catch up here:
Myth # 1 - Don't Tell People the Truth—They'll Screw You
Myth #2 - Nice Guys Finish Last