You are Who You Hire Part 2

September 27, 2016

This blog is coauthored with Jan van der Hoop; Partner and co-founder of Fit First Technologies; a specialist supplier of tools to enable predetermined recruitment screening. Jan has multiple industry experience and a background as a senior HR practitioner in several household name companies. 

This is the second installment in a 3-part series examining the importance of objectivity and discipline in screening employees for your business. The first article dealt with the risks of hiring people with similar profiles and the value of diversity in teams - diversity in experience, perspective, and approache.

We examine today the importance of having high performance standards in attracting top talent to your organization. It may seem counterintuitive at first to think of performance management as an attraction tool, but the truth about humans is that we tend to seek out 'tribes' that share our standards.

Birds of a Feather: You attract what you tolerate

Every manager wants to lead a high-performing, engaged team that shares a commitment to achieve superior outcomes but how many times in a career do they actually get to experience this? Nirvana is elusive and more frequently expend time and energy reconciling misalignments between departments and team members; 'negotiating' personality conflicts between talented, well-meaning people in roles to which they are not suited.

When most organizations say they screen for 'fit' what they really mean is that they are undertaking a 'gut check' of how much a candidate is 'like us' and how closely they align with organizational culture and values. A subjective reflection of the interviewer's personal preferences than any predictive measure of the individual's likely success in the role or the company.
A more deliberate approach to selection comprises using objective tools to measure and assess a candidate's likely fit through four lenses with the:

  • Manager to whom they will report
  • Job for which they are being considered
  • People they will be spending their day with
  • Company's values and culture, and
  • Standards of performance expected

This last aspect is often overlooked; it has to do with how high an organization sets the bar. The old adage that 'birds of a feather flock together' and too low will limit business potential and weaken how your brand is perceived by your customers and future employees. When mediocrity is tolerated and average performance accepted those behavioral standards quickly become entrenched and become the standard to which people work.

Those whose personal standards and capabilities are higher than the 'pack' will do one of two things; relax their standards and settle for performing just a smidgen better, or they will look elsewhere for people who share their standards entrenching mediocre performance even further.

You attract what you tolerate and if that is mediocrity your business will under perform and potential value lost. By setting the bar high and accepting only the highest standards of performance you will become a magnet that will help you attract the best talent available.

If your business results aren't what you'd like, is not running as smoothly as it should, or you are not attracting the caliber of talent that you want maybe it's time to undertake a talent audit. Who displays the personal standards and qualities that you want for your organization? Create opportunities to challenge, energize, and motivate them to achieve. Those that don't like the heat will leave for a more 'accommodating' environment while some will rise to the challenge and everyone especially the company will be better off.

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