David Maister raises some interesting questions about hiring people of character:
I’d be interested in hearing about other creative ways that organizations determine whether potential recruits really have desired character traits. How do you really tell if someone is good with people? Is a team player? Is honourable, has integrity and is trustworthy? Is the type of person who can maintain their composure in a crisis? Has the "good kind"of ambition and determination without too much of the "bad kind?"
Link: davidmaister.com > Passion, People and Principles > Screening for Character.
What works when hiring talent? How do you hire for character, let alone any other skill or attribute?
First, understand that there are limits to what you can learn during the hiring process - and how that relates to eventual performance. It's not perfect. Frankly, there is just not enough statistical predictability behind most of the tests and surveys. Performance is significantly influenced by leadership and by the systems in practice in the workplace. Put a great person into an environment that lacks fair process and see what happens.
How people perform under stress matters more than performance under ideal conditions. As Marcus Buckingham suggests, look for patterns of behavior, not just single examples of success. Get to the core of the candidate's resilience and ritual. In the interview process, simulate stressful situations and see how they perform.
To get good results, the hiring process must have clearly defined criteria, followed by a consistent interview process, followed by consistent evaluation of what was learned. How consistently did the candidates perform across multiple interviewers?
One of my favorite areas to explore is what Paul Stoltz calls the candidate's "deal breaker." What is the dimension of the work that really energizes the person? What is that essential attribute of their working life that, when it is absent, has them "check out?" Is it rewards, recognition, integrity? What about excellence?
Sometimes, though, even after extensive testing and interviews, the qualities of 2 candidates may still be close. Three of my favorite final evaluation questions to ask myself before hiring a candidate are:
- Do I trust them with my wallet?
- Do I have to have this person?
- The beer test: Would I want to sit and have a beer with this person?
For customer-facing roles, getting the answer right matters more than ever before. Time is our most valuable resource. Assuming we have a workplace that would welcome new talent, assuming that we have the right systems in place to drive success, then having the wrong person for even 6 months is just not worth it.
What do you think?
- What are the most effective approaches you have used, both scientific and otherwise, to select people who have made a difference in your organization?
- Pfeffer and Sutton believe that an "obsession with individual talent can be hazardous to organizational health." Agree or disagree?
- People requirements vary by context. What are some of the unique people attributes you look for to support your brand, your customer experience or culture?