by M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
How many times have you decided you needed to add to your staff, decided on the technical qualifications the job required and started looking for the person to fill those requirements? How many times have you hired someone who met all the technical requirements, but who did not really end up fitting in to the current team and their existing culture? What were the consequences of these hires on the atmosphere and levels of cooperation within the department or the company as a whole? How did that decision to bring that particular person on board affect those who were already there? What could be the long term impacts of making good or poor hiring decisions on the success of the company?
Best guess: Some hires were successful. They fit into the culture of the company, had attitudes which made them acceptable to the existing staff and generally had a positive overall impact on the company or department. On the other hand, what was the impact of those hires who were not successful as outlined above? What were the effects on productivity, morale and the general atmosphere in the department or whole company?
An unsuccessful hire can be defined as one in which the impact of the new person does something negative to the working environment, productivity, team work and/or atmosphere within a company. Often this can lead to an overall culture change inside a company with long lasting impacts on multiple groups of people within the company itself.
A logical conclusion may be reached that indicates that technical capabilities are not sufficient reason alone to hire someone, if that person could have a negative effect on the rest of the company, or even within a department. For example, one of our clients has taken a very different approach. Within the job definition is included a factor for attitude.
Attitude can be a significant contributor to the success or failure of a new hire. Does the applicant approach the hiring process with a positive, “can do” attitude, or is the applicant merely looking for a job? Does the applicant walk briskly into the room, or amble slowly with little apparent purpose? Does the applicant look the interviewer in the eye, or stare at the table or off to one side? In general, is the overall attitude a positive one, or a neutral or negative one?
If the job is principally a manual labor job, the emphasis on attitude can be a large part of the overall decision about hiring a particular individual. This one highly successful client has the approach of: “Hire for attitude, teach the skills” for most of their factory positions. Obviously, if the job requires certain highly technical skills, those have to be the first filters, but within the group that possesses those skills, attitude is often the deciding factor.
For office and staff positions, much the same approach is recommended. Be as specific as possible about the job related requirements that the new hire will have to be considered for the position. While the skills set out in the job description should be a necessary qualifier for those who are candidates for the position, attitude should influence the decision of whether to hire or not.
The impact of personal relationships within a company, depending on the size of the company or department, and the consequences of an unsuccessful hire are too important to be left to technical qualifications alone. One bad hire can seriously impact morale, effectiveness and even the culture within a department or company to the point that good people stop being productive and effective. Some may even go so far as to start looking for positions outside the company to get away from the disturbance that an unfortunate hire can generate.
The possibility that hiring this type of person may lead to additional hires with the same general attitude could lead to a cancer within the company. This “cancer” can spread, sapping strengths and lowering productivity while eroding internal culture and atmosphere to the point where good people leave. A poor decision in hiring can start a sequence of events that, if unchanged, could hurt the company severely over time.
Much of the company’s long term success hinges on the attitudes of those who are brought on board, how well they fit into the existing culture and how well they work with the existing staff. A good fit, coupled with a positive attitude, can help ensure the long term effectiveness of the staff and, as a result, may increase the likelihood for long term prosperity of the company.
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M. Dana Baldwin is a Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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