“We HIRE people for what they know, but we FIRE them for who they are.”

I made this statement more than 5 years ago, and it has been received a number of different ways across the groups I speak to. Some find it a little too direct. Others take issue with the idea that it is too general, and that they can cite anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Still others turn away from it because they feel like it overgeneralizes interactions between an employer and an employee. Regardless of your initial reaction to the statement, I’d ask you to sit with it for just a few moments.

The HR group I spoke with today in Vancouver, Canada sure seemed to connect with it. I’d like to spend a moment breaking down my rationale for making such a bold declaration. After that, I’ll let you decide if there is enough truth to it to begin to use it as part of your hiring criteria.

Think about the last person your organization fired — was it because that person was physically or mentally UNABLE to do the job? Not likely. Most likely, their release had to do with how they interacted with people, their lack of initiative, or their inability to be honest in some way. Those items have nothing to do with what they know, and everything to do with who they are.

The good news is we have tools to evaluate who someone is long before we hire them. With MBTI, predictive index, cultural index, DISC, and a half a dozen other tools at our disposal, it has never been easier to get a solid read on WHO somebody is long before we commit to them. Remember, the candidate has no idea if they will fit in with your organization because they have never been in it. The only ones who know who will fit into the job and the culture are the company representatives, including HR.

So, what if we changed the job ad entirely to focus on the traits of WHO we hope will apply, instead of what specific knowledge or education they have? We would still have a whole 3-4 step interview process to see if they were the right person for the position. For technical positions, we can add in qualifiers if needed. But — aren’t we going to end up teaching them our way of doing things anyway?

You can teach a great person to be a great employee, but it is super hard to teach a person with significant issues to fit into your culture. Think of your most valued people. Do they have the most technical knowledge… or are they just great people through and through? Food for thought…

If you are looking for insight or specific action steps to grow a process within your organization to Win the War for Talent, please reach out. It’s my passion to help companies solve their talent issues, whether that is finding the right talent or retaining and developing that talent. With the right processes in place, your organization can grow and thrive even more!

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