At Whole Foods the Whole Team Hires

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At Whole Foods Markets, teams—and only teams—have the power

to approve new hires for full-time jobs. Store leaders screen candidates,

then recommend them for jobs on a specific team. After the

team interviews the candidate, a two-thirds vote is required for a hire,

then the candidate doesn’t become a full-time employee until after

a thirty-day trial period. Teams routinely reject new hires before the

thirty days are up if they turn out not to have the right stuff. Not

everyone fits the Whole Foods profile, which is people who are ‘‘serious

about food, have a knack for pleasing customers, and can tolerate

the candid give-and-take that’s necessary for a [workplace] democracy.’’

Another reason Whole Foods team members are so tough on

new hires—the company’s gainsharing program ties directly to team

performance. If team members vote for someone who doesn’t perform,

their bonuses will be less.11

Check several references without fail. Many managers do not check references

because of the time it takes, and because many references are

reluctant to speak for fear of a lawsuit. Still, smart hiring managers

know how to overcome these obstacles and they know that the information

to be gotten is worth taking the extra time. There are

several books that provide tips for better reference-checking, among

them Pierre Mornell’s Hiring Smart! and my earlier book, Keeping the

People Who Keep You in Business.