It's a classic problem. As your company grows, it becomes more difficult to maintain hiring standards ? particularly when youno longer do all the hiring yourself. Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., faced that problem while growing theBoston-based business from a start-up to a company with approximately 300 employees. Koch found that it helps to have asimple hiring rule, "so people can understand and visualize and don't have to try to imagine what you mean."

Koch's rule: Don't hire anybody unless it improves the average of the company. "It's a wonderful rule because administratorscan imagine what the average person is like; there's a fairly clear standard in their heads," Koch explains. "They look at thisperson and they can say, 'Yeah, they're better,' or more likely, 'No, they're not better than our average."

Why is the rule so important? "When you start on a scale of 1 to 10," explains Koch, "you hire 8s and 9s and 10s. Then youstart hiring 7s, and the 7s hire 6s, and the 6s start hiring 4s and 5s. And before you know it, what started out as 8s, 9s, and10s are 4s, 5s, and 6s on their way to becoming 1s and 2s and 3s."