Hire for attitude, train later. It’s a mantra that has been said in various recruitment circles for many years, but it has never been truer than today in this tight labour market we find ourselves in.
Hiring candidates based on attitude isn’t as easy as it sounds – for one, how do you know what sort of attitudinal behaviour you’re looking for? How do know that attribute will be the key to their high performance and positive influence on others?
So many new hires fail quickly, and it’s largely to do with soft skills. Here are some things to think about as we head into the new year, and your recruitment drive picks up.
1. If you don’t think about attitude, your new hire will fail
According to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ and author of the book Hiring for Attitude, in a study they conducted on 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed on the job within 18 months. Why?
“Even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill,” Murphy told Forbes in an interview.
2. The 5 biggest reason new hires fail are:
Leadership IQ tracked the success and failure of new hires and interview managers on their hiring tactics and employees’ performance. After compiling this, researchers identified the main reasons hires fail:
Coachability (26%): The ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others.
Emotional Intelligence (23%): The ability to understand and manage ones own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions
Motivation (17%): Sufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel in the job.
Temperament (15%): Attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment.
Technical Competence (11%): As mentioned above, functional or technical skills required to do the job rated low on reasons why hires failed.
3. When hiring, focus on soft skills. Technical skill training comes later.
The best companies in the world lean heavily on “attitudinal” characteristics of candidates. These personal attributes are not things the business can train people on, but are things like having a positive personality and showing interest in learning new things.
It doesn’t mean you ignore technical skills, but by focusing on attitude you ensure you’re bringing someone in that aligns with your brands culture and identity, meaning your eventually have a workforce that’s happier and more engaged.
4. Spot the skills you want by observing candidates when they think you’re not watching
Check out you new hires’ behaviour when he or she thinks they’re not being watched. This could be anything from how they behave before the interview – do they talk to other people in the waiting room and make conversation, or sit quietly by themselves? – to how they treat your secretary or receptionist.
This often gives you a true glimpse into someone’s character, which can be very different to what they put forward in the interview.
5. Two ways to figure out the attitudes you’re looking for
The goal is determining what attitudinal attributes matter most in your company, with your employees and with your clients or customers. Leadership IQ provided the following two tests to help you identify the attitudes you need:
Test 1: Finding your high performer attitudes
To narrow this one down, go to your current high performers and think about the people that are a pleasure to be around in the office and make your job easier to do. What are their distinguishing characteristics? Examples of your answers could include:
• They take ownership of problems
• They’re highly collaborative
• They aren’t afraid to make mistakes
• They meet commitments
• They’re empathetic towards customers’ and colleagues’ needs
Test 2: Finding your low-performer attitudes
How do you discover the things you want to avoid in new hires? Think about the poorest performers in your organisation and focus on the attributes they possess that you would like to eradicate. What are the attitudes they have that make work so much harder for everyone? Examples of your answers could be:
• They always focus on the negative
• They gossip
• They respond to feedback with an argument
• They only do the bare minimum expected of them
• They get overwhelmed by multiple demands and priorities
• They always find someone else to blame for their mistakes
• They’re unwilling to leave their comfort zone