Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are We Hiring for the Right Reasons?



Had a long chat with an entrepreneur friend yesterday.  He had set up a concept restaurant which was extremely successful and he wanted the business to grow for which he needed people. Was discussing with him on what he was looking for a person who would manage his operations. In what would have been a typically short "job description" defined role tuned out to much more that.

Which got me thinking. 
  • When we hire personnel, are we being strait jacketed by the job profile? 
  • Are we not looking at attributes which signify an average regular professional rather than an excellent one? 
  • Are we more bothered about what the person has done before? 
  • Don't we reject persons for what they have done and not what they can do?  
In a hurry to hire people who fit the job description we are not looking at people who can contribute much more. Here is a list of the criteria which I would look for in a person
  • Positive Attitude - To me the most important factor is finding people with the right attitude. You can teach a person all aspects of a job but no matter how good the person is, if he does not have the right outlook, no program will help. A person may have the aptitude but without the correct attitude the person is as good as a nobody. Hire for attitude and train for skills. Infact I rather hire a person with 0% aptitude and 100% attitude. The person can atleast contribute to the team, thereby to the success of the team. 'It is true that one rotten apple can spoil the rest'
  • Self Motivated/ Starter -These people require less supervision or any prodding to get the job done within the parameters set. Once the employee understands his responsibilities he/ she will work towards the completing the assignment at hand. Moreover self-motivated people will make efforts to learn new aspects and implement it.
  • Strong Self – Confidence - Believing in one self-separates the haves from the have-nots.  The personae of self-confident people can be infectious and inspire others. Self-confidence comes from understanding of the job/ role and also attitude.  They are not afraid to ask questions when they do not know. The self-confident person does what he/she feels is right and is willing to take risks. These people don't let mistakes affect their performance and instead learn from them. Most importantly they have faith in themselves. A team leader will find it difficult to manage each and every person but can hire people who can manage themselves.
  • Risk Taking Ability - The ability to take intelligent risks is an important ingredient in a person's success and a huge determinant in anybody's level of achievement.  Sub-optimal performers settle into their comfort zone and play safe, falling into endlessly recurring patterns. They stop challenging themselves in significant ways. By contrast, top performers are talented and persistent risk-takers.
  • Decision Making Skills - Taking decisions and that to in a timely manner is a necessity. Many employees prefer to leave the decision making to others. Both amounts to procrastination and hinders the progress of any project. 
  • Team Player - A team player is willing to be an active participant who shares openly and cooperates with the rest of the team, thereby respecting each individual in his team. He will show flexibility, communicate effectively and take a problem solver approach. For the greater good of the team he will be willing to put his personal objectives aside as it may contradict with the teams for the greater good.
  • Creativity/ Lateral thinking - As we move to the experience economy any job or project requires creativity in thinking especially in customer facing functions. Creativity is not restricted to the arts domain  but are also solutions to problems - for a sales person in the B2B space to a techie designing an app for the smartphones. A judicious mix of right and left brain is required in any professional. While the term 'out of the box' is often misused, it is becoming necessary for professionals to look at alternatives which are completely unique, different and away from the beaten path.
  • Failure - I have noticed that failure has always been the path to success. A failure is not a crime, the ability to learn from it contributes to lasting success. Failure will help people learn, let people look at various alternatives before arriving at a decision, and more importantly drives change in the way a person works or tackles problems. Failure also makes people work harder so that they are not repeated.  
  • Adaptability - The market is a dynamic place and by that extension so is the workplace. We need people who are adaptable to the constant flux.  Adaptability also means adapting to the personality and work habits of colleagues. By viewing change as an opportunity to complete work assignments in a more efficient manner, adapting to change can be a positive experience.
While I do not question the need to hire people with the necessary skill sets for the job, I feel we need to go beyond that. 

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