Does Every Hire Need to Be a Rock Star? Ask Madeleine

March 11, 2023 Madeleine Homan Blanchard


Dear Madeleine,

I read last week’s column with interest and it sparked a question for me.

I am hiring right now for a position that requires someone to simply keep their head down and get the job done. Our company isn’t growing very fast, so there won’t be much room for advancement.

I have a number of good applicants—some young people who clearly want to grow and some middle-aged folks who seem happy to get into a swim lane and stay in it.

My boss is advocating for me to focus on the younger, ambitious ones, but I think that is just setting people up for frustration. I think it makes more sense to hire someone who will not be disappointed with the lack of a career path.

What do you think?

Race Horse or Work Horse?


Dear Race Horse or Work Horse?

This is such an interesting question! I suspect your instincts must be based on experience. I would ask what caused the last person in this job to leave. If it was because there was no room to grow, then you have your answer, don’t you?

The fact is that companies need workers who enjoy their work, are content leaving their work at work at the end of day, maybe go the extra mile on occasion (but not all the time), and aren’t gunning for their boss’s job. After all, there is only so much room at the top.

The last thing you want is someone who will be disappointed; you are right about that. I think you want to focus on finding someone who has the right skills, will be a good fit for your culture, and fully understands the nature of job and its lack of potential for growth. I think it has more to do with life goals, hopes, and dreams than age.

It sounds like you have a good grasp of the kind of person you are looking for. The age thing is a red herring that muddled the issue.

Trust your gut on this one.

Love, Madeleine

About Madeleine

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response soon. Please be advised that although she will do her best, Madeleine cannot respond to each letter personally. Letters will be edited for clarity and length.


About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a Master Certified Coach and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. She is coauthor of Blanchard’s Coaching Essentials training program, and several books including Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest, Coaching in Organizations, and Coaching for Leadership.

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