Here’s what kills me: When a person manages to get a job in an area where they are technically capable but socially inept. Let me explain.
For the past several months, a family member of mine has been sick, and we have had almost daily visits to the doctor’s office. The nurse is socially inept. She never makes eye contact, never smiles, walks away from patients while they’re still asking questions, and is void of any compassion whatsoever. Now, I have been reassured several times that she’s one of the most knowledgeable nurses in the area, but guess what? When you’re having daily visits to a doctor’s office – it’s not for a party, and I’d give up this techno-nurse for someone with a little more compassion any day.
But it’s not the nurse I blame. Well, not entirely anyway. It’s the person and company who hired her.
And bad hiring managers appear to be popping up everywhere; the grouchy bagger, the snobby salesman, the customer service rep with a ‘tude. All of them are a result of hiring managers who settle for candidates with the right technical skills but the wrong attitude.
Consistently bad hiring is a result of one thing: Companies who think they care about what their customers want but are too lazy to put the work into really caring. Because, let’s put it all out there, giving the customers what they want all the time is hard work. It means listening to your customers, hiring the right people (every time), holding managers accountable, keeping employees happy, caring about customer service all day every day and most of all…
…not being afraid of talking about if candidates and current employees ‘fit’ or have the right ‘personality’ for the job. The lawyers hate this one, which has caused countless companies to look the other way when they have emploees who ‘technically’ got the job done but might have had the wrong attitude with the customer. But my theory is that if you have created a culture that is focused on giving your customers a high level of service, then when you have candidates or employees who don’t ‘fit’ that mold and their personalities don’t make them good at this, it’s easy for you to get rid of them. (Say it with me – if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. )
Robert Francis, CEO of Planned Companies, not only gets the concept of hiring for attitude, but he’s making huge and controversial changes in his company to live out these values. He’s profiled in this week’s Workforce recruiting article. He has done his homework, made the decision to hire for attitude over technical skills, and followed through with that commitment. In fact, his company uses a lengthy attitude assessment with each candidate who applies for a position and if the person has the wrong attitude – even if they’re technically qualified – they don’t get the position.
Because of his stance and dedication to hiring for attitude, Robert Francis has seen turnover rates of 20% in an industry where 100% turnover is the standard and he’s not alone. Companies such as Nordstrom and Zappos have seen continued success because they understand what it means to evaluate employees on ‘fit’ and ‘personality’.
So if you’re like most companies out there who think you care about what your customers want, I’m challenging you to see your company through your customers’ eyes. Are you really giving them the service that will keep them coming back for more? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate your hiring practices and maybe it’s time to follow in Francis’ steps and start hiring for attitude instead of talent.
I know everyone has different opinions on hiring for ‘fit’. Did I miss the mark?
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.