Selecting Great Employees
Selecting Great Employees
The process of becoming a great organization requires key elements that must be in place- some are foundational and others are dynamic. Two of the foundational elements are your core purpose and core values. Together, as practiced, they are your organization’s Culture. The purpose and values should be “founder driven”. Chuck Dahlgren, founder and president of Crystal-D in St Paul MN took the time to determine and articulate his core purpose and values. (This idea of “as practiced” is HUGE.) What’s more, working with Crystal D we helped them to integrate this organizational “character”, (which translates to corporate personality) along with competence and chemistry to form a “selection process”. The improvement he’s seen has significantly helped his company to grow 20% per year for that last three years, because Chuck takes selecting the right people very seriously.
The RIGHT people are the most important asset of your organization- according to Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don’t”. I have spent the last 8 years of my life working with companies, testing out the findings that Mr. Collins and his team of researchers wrote about in the book. I have found that First Who, Then What, is a viable and reliable principle. But how do you implement it? I call it “selection”.
To hire the RIGHT people you must first put yourself in the position of being selective. This means using specific criteria both in how you obtain great people and how you determine if they are the RIGHT people. It is this part of the “selection value stream” that I want to communicate in this post. Selection is the outcome of having two to three qualified candidates from which to choose, when making a hiring decision. In short, your goal is that you want to have a minimum of two candidates EITHER one of which you would hire. Then, you “select” the best one.
We have developed, and teach a set of comprehensive selection criteria that we have found set a new standard for selecting the RIGHT people.
These three selection criteria, although defined differently, are also in use in a Book By Pastor Bill Hybels which was published also in 2008 (not sure of the date.). Please do not confuse these writings. They are similar only in name. I first wrote about these three in 2006
Lets look at each one.
Each criterion has a key question that is a point of discussion in the hiring process for your selection group.
Competence- Key Question- Can heshe do the job?
The Competence question is key and in most companies it is the PRIMARY question. This is a huge mistake. All three of these criteria are important, and none should be overlooked. While competence is at the core it is very rarely the cause of job-loss. As my friend Gary Brattland, President of The Paradigm Group, says: “we hire people for what they know, but we terminate them for who they are.”
Competence should be mostly about the content of the person’s experience. I say content because therein lies the secret. What have the accomplished with what they know? Have they demonstrated the skills of the jobs. Asking questions in a behavioral style- outcome-based, content-based- , that seek specific examples of what the person has actually done or accomplished will be KEY. (This questioning process is an art, not a technique.)
Character- Key Question- Does the person think like us?
Character is about your organizations core values and is the WHO part of hiring. Collins says the great companies seek great people who align with the core purpose and core values of the company. This is critical but assessing it in the interview is not done well in most organizations. if at all. First you have to really know your real values and why your organization really exists. (I guess I beat that horse beyond rocognition. :=) ) This is the crux of the Character question. Do they think like you? You must identify your core values in behavioral terms and then ask behavioral questions that assess what YOU think is important, YOUR values. Everybody’s values are expressed in ways that are meaningful to THEM. When it comes to selecting the right people “thinking like us” means that the right people stand for and live the same beliefs, principles and morals that you do within the work context. If you want empowered people, you have to trust them eventually, and if you know they truly share your values, trust becomes easier. The core values drive your culture and decision-making, they point to what it is important dynamically. If they are real and you can articulate them well, you have a great chance of hiring the right people.
Chemistry- Key Question- Do I want to work with this person?
Chemistry is about rapport, amiability, personality. Many people hire based on chemistry alone. Interviewer: “I really like this guy.” Questioner: “What do you like about him?” Interviewer: “We really hit it off.” Questioner: “What was it about him you liked?” Interviewer: “Everything, we just really hit it off. He’s from a town near where I grew up. It turns out we played each other in state football finals”. Chemistry is your enemy if you don’t also detect alignment with your core purpose and values, and a high degree of competence because it can easily become a “false positive”. There are no techniques for uncovering chemistry except this: you want to put your applicants in such a comfortable state, that they reveal who they really are, as opposed to the facade they want you to see. And, would you want to spend 8 hours a day, locked in a room with this person?
There is a whole lot more to the HOW of these three criteria. The “Selection Value Stream” utilizes these criteria to generate candidates that “fit”. When you “select” people based on these three criteria you produce a new employment standard, one of competence, character and chemistry. (Copyright 2008, Becoming Great!
Jeff Pelletier 651-492-8540