1. Can they do the job?
2. How well will they do it?
3. Will they stay & perform?
While it seems simple enough, engagement, turnover, and productivity of most companies doesn’t reflect that these questions are answered sufficiently. In most cases, I think the questions aren’t really understood well enough.
Managers frequently look at past experience and skills , often relying on them too much as predictors of future success. Let’s face it, most people can do anything for some period of time if they set their minds to it. That doesn’t really answer the question.
Do they have the natural talent to do the job so they can develop skills to do it even better? Skills without talent are a one-trick pony.
As an example, let’s look at Douglas, who is a candidate for a mid-level management position. Douglas has been a manager at 3 different companies, all in a similar industry as the job he’s interviewing for. The problem is that Douglas has moderate to low Emotional Intelligence. As a result, his past teams didn’t really work well, and he often had trouble with other departments.
This won’t come through in the interview, but why? Because Douglas doesn’t understand the impact that he has on those around him. What he sees in his perception is that he was a good manager and everyone liked him.
Douglas can talk all about his duties, how to read financials, and even how departments are supposed to work together. The problem is that those are skills, while the talent just isn’t present.
How well will they do the job?
Quantifying this aspect can be a bit tricky on the surface. We need to get beyond the surface to really understand, but first we need to ask another question: what are the key things to accomplish in order to be successful in this role?
There are generally 3-5 things that are must-haves for success in any role. Once you know what those are, you can start to determine the core talents that must be present in order to achieve success. Then, measure those talents in the individual.
As another example, let’s look at Heidi. She seems to be an upcoming sales superstar. Her ability to relate to people, really understanding what motivates them to make buying decisions, is well
above average. Additionally, her ability to execute is also very high. Give her a 1:1 sales situation and she’ll walk away with the sale a high majority of the time.
In her previous roles, she was an outstanding Account Manager, and everyone from her customers to her boss and team just loved working with her. The problem is that the role she’s being considered for has a lot of complexity. First, she has to sell to multiple decision makers, but that’s a skill that she can acquire. The second problem is more challenging – solving complex business problems.
Problem solving, by itself, is a talent. Solving complex problems requires a deeper talent that involves strategic thinking ability. This is where Heidi is lacking. She’s a whiz at tactical execution, but strategy and understanding how complex things work together is not her forte. In a 1:1 interview, she will demonstrate her natural talent for winning the mind of the interviewer, even if that person is asking questions about complex problems.
If hired for this new role, everyone will enjoy working with her. However, her “win rate” will be average at best, unless she’s provided with some support for solving those complex problems.
Will they stay & perform?
If you’ve made the investment to hire someone with outstanding talent who will do the job well, the last thing you want is for them to leave before you see a return on your investment.
In a majority of cases, people don’t leave companies, they leave their boss. I find there are 3 things that will impact the longevity of a person in a given role.
Disagreements come from conflicting values, and this is typically why the boss-employee problems begin in the first place. They can also come from not fitting into the team culture.
Unequal levels of Emotional Intelligence can also create “struggles,” even when values are in alignment. This is something that is rarely discussed, but impacts unnecessary turnover, and must be considered.
Finally, there’s the case of Heidi, possessing most of the talent required, but missing a critical component. Though she is clearly a high potential, her struggle in the area of solving complex problems will eventually cause burnout. Eventually, she will question her own ability and determine to find something where she can shine as frequently as she’d like.
These 3 questions seem simple enough, but they cover a lot of ground that requires some deep-thinking, and possibly new processes, in order to answer them sufficiently. If you don’t clearly know the answers to these questions before you hire, you risk not setting up success for yourself or the candidate.