Why you should hire on attitude and fire on attitude
You are in the middle of a recruitment drive looking for the perfect employee. It comes down to a shortlist and you don’t know which one to pick. It’s obvious isn’t it, pick the one who can hit the ground running because they have the qualifications and experience you need. But is it the right choice?
It’s very difficult to appoint the right person for a role. there are many factors to take in account such as; experience, skills, qualifications and culture fit. But the one thing you may or may not have considered, is their attitude. Are they are positive or negative person. Will they build up the people around them or put them down. If they don’t work out, then you have to fire them which is easier said then done.
When you are interviewing a candidate ask yourself, “Are they a builder or a demolition agent?
Hire builders not demolition experts
I think beyond a resume, qualifications and experience and look at the attitude and culture fit of the person I’m interviewing.
I came across this poem years ago which puts recruitment into perspective.
I saw them tearing a building down. A gang of men in a busy town.
With a yo heave ho and a lusty yell,they swing a beam and the sidewall fell.
I asked the foremen if these men were as skilled as those he would hire if he were to build?
He laughed and said, “Oh no indeed.Common labor is all I need,
for they can wreck in a day or two,what builders have taken years to do!”
So I asked myself, as I went my way. “Which of these roles am I to play?
Am I the builder who works with care, measuring life by the rule and square.
Or am I the wrecker who walks the town, content in the role of tearing down?
~ Author Unknown ~
When you build a culture where people want to work, they give you their best. They do right by you and your customers. This person may not have all the skills you need at the time of making the recruitment decision, keep in mind skills you can teach. It’s much harder to teach the right attitude.
You might be saying, “But it takes too long to teach people the right skills?” Yes, it can, however, if you make the wrong hiring decision, this is a mistake that could live with you for a lot longer. By hiring a person with the right attitude, you are making a real investment in yourself, your team and your future for if you hire the wrong person with all the skills but a terrible attitude, they could destroy everything you have spent building up in a heartbeat.
The demolition expert
I call the wrecker in the poem above a demolition expert. They are experts at destroying stakeholder value. Keep in mind, a stakeholder is everyone from an investor, employees, business owners, suppliers and customers. Hiring the wrong person on your team can literally tear a business apart. How? Simple, by having the wrong attitude towards you, your team, their subordinates, their manager and their peers. People who have an unhealthy ego and are motivated by self-interest.
Being consumed by self-interest and negativity, they have no remorse for their decisions or the way they treat others and sadly they are very destructive. While highly intelligent, they channel their intellect and talents into power and empire building and not into building others which exemplary leaders do. Often, they are insanely competitive, perpetually angry and constantly on the attack looking to blame others if things don’t go their way.
They are sometime known as corporate sociopaths or corporate psychopaths. Resistant to inspiration they are far from being a team player. Power consumes them and they have to be right even if they are wrong. Strangely enough, they have brilliant resumes, interview well and have highly acquired skills and knowledge that match your position description which is exactly why they are on your short list. Don’t be fooled.
You cannot allow a demolition expert into your organization. The negative impact they have can cause irreparable damage long after you figure out you made the wrong hiring decision.
It is far easier to hire the right person on attitude than fire the wrong person on attitude.
Make preventable hiring decisions
Preventable hiring decisions are designed to keep the wrong people out. When you allow the wrong people into your organization, they can rapidly infect others with their negativity, pessimism, and can’t do attitude which ultimately weaken the organization. Therefore, it’s important to get the recruitment process right in the first instance.
Larger organizations tend to have an HR department and smaller organizations may use a recruitment specialist to make the hiring choice for you. This can be a mistake. Yes by all means involve them and listen to their opinion, but keep in mind they are not operational leaders nor are they line managers.
Line managers must be involved in the recruitment process, after all, they know how their department or team works from an operational perspective and they also (should) have an understanding of the team culture and how each individual team member responds to a particular management style. Don’t allow HR professionals to hijack a recruitment process – stand your ground.
Also, be aware that line managers can focus too much on skill sets or the technical ability to do the job. Skills sets and technical ability are no guarantee of success. The emphasis must be on attitude, the potential to learn quickly and their communication style.
Don’t confuse capability with attitude. Capability is the ability to do the job which is much easier to match to a job description than attitude. Attitude is more about being positive, having a can-do attitude and wanting to part of the greater vision.
In my experience, it is far better to hire a person with the right attitude than have to fire a person for a poor attitude.
Attitude accounts for 90% of success
Charles Swindoll says it best.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude in life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company… a church…. a home.
The remarkable thing is that we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way… we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% of what we do and 90% of how we react to it.”
From “Attitude” by Charles Swindoll
On a final note
When you hire people with the right attitude you are far more likely to succeed in business.
In a nutshell
It is better to hire the right person with the right attitude and teach them the skills they need, than hire someone with the wrong attitude and the skill sets you need.
- The wrong hire can destroy stakeholder value.
- People with a positive attitude build a positive work culture.
- Make preventable hiring decisions.
- Don’t confuse capability with attitude.
- Involve line managers in the hiring decision.
- Don’t let HR hijack the recruitment process.
- Focus on attitude not skills during the hiring process.
- Attitude accounts for 90% of success.