Our company has employees with great longevity. Many have been here for over ten years and some for more than fifteen. I find this remarkable! A recent article I read in Forbes magazine declares that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months and that 89% of the time can be contributed to attitude.
How does this happen and what can you do to assist in the success of the candidates you hire? First, create a well thought-out interview process. An important thing to remember is managers assume interviews reveal the true employee. This is not usually the case. Actually it is more like dating or a courtship, when everyone is on their best behavior. No weaknesses are shown. There is no insight as to how the person will react when the pressure is really on. It may only give you a slight glimpse as to how the person will react in a formal setting. So be careful to not rely on first impressions. Make certain to take a few other steps to ensure you have the right candidate for the job.
Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ and the author of Hiring for Attitude, Hundred Percenters, and HARD Goals was interviewed by Forbes magazine for the article I mentioned. I’d like to share some of the ideas that were emphasized.
When asked why so many failed within the first 18 months of taking a job several great points were made. Specifically were that 89% of the failures were “attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament”. He points out the fact that technical abilities have tools to measure proficiency while there are no tests in place to measure attitudes. The tests also do not ask whether one is motivated to learn new skills, or if they practice innovative thinking. Nor do you get to assess their ability to cope with and bounce back from failure. These are called “soft skills” and they seem to be just as important as the technical skills when assessing your candidates.
In one of my recent college course we were asked to assess our “preferred communication styles”. There was a questionnaire which determined whether we were more likely to be “thinkers” or “feelers”. In another setting we took a survey and determined whether we communicated passively, aggressively or assertively. Another exercise determined whether we were likely to be “motivators or diminishers”. I found the result to be very insightful and helpful in learning how to communicate with my fellow classmates. I also sought out additional tools to help develop skills in those areas where I had less than desirable results. These are tools employers should use more often when hiring so that all the pertinent skills, including soft skills, would be measured to ascertain whether the right candidate is being hired for the right position. Otherwise, valuable discretionary effort is lost after new hires come on board and then misplaced within the organization.
Another area discussed is the corporate culture. Is yours social or competitive in nature? What are the attitudes that make your organization unique and special? You need to understand the answers to these questions and take them into account when interviewing. Otherwise you will set yourself (and the candidate chosen) for failure. For instance, if you have a social culture and you hire someone who is a hard driving and authoritarian, no one will be happy and productivity can suffer. And, if you hire a social butterfly into an extremely competitive sales position, the results will likely be the same. Make certain to match the environment with the nature of the candidate for successful results.
These are a few simple suggestions and reminders on hiring for attitude. I would enjoy hearing how you have been successful in these areas and your feedback!