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Get more out of your people to succeed

3 qualities to look for in your next hire

Some believe that small business owners should constantly be looking for great employees—even when they’re not necessarily hiring. It’s a good point. We rely on our people, and we often sell our businesses on the very quality of our people. So when you think about building up your team or improving your bench you definitely want to hire the best candidate you can afford. Trouble is, that’s much easier said than done. There are lots of people looking for work but you don’t just go out and hire the first person that fits the bill. So what exactly do you look for? According to Gary Hamel the business-guru-Harvard-guy who originated the concept of “core competencies” infers plenty has changed, and we need to reassess what we’re buying [in people]. I agree. It is yet another response to rapid change in the marketplace. It has been trickling down for some time: the market demands more from your customer; your customer demands more from you; but now you have to demand more from your employees. Make a change. Get in the habit of always looking for great employees.

The experience trap

Most of us have hired based on the merits of individuals’ experience. Why? Because few companies want to invest money to train someone only to watch them leave with it six months later. Besides, you have a job to do and if they’ve already been doing it, what else matters?

Other times we look for something else in a prospect. Special traits that we hope will give us a clue what might be under the hood. Work ethic, industry knowledge, a great attitude, listening skill, smarts? Who wouldn’t feel comfortable hiring the smart guy if you could afford him? But what if the smart guy lacks motivation? This is the point where it all starts to get very gray and you begin to lose your confidence. We need to have some simple metrics that provide us with a clear and accurate picture of a candidate’s strength. Who knows when you might run into someone at a trade show who’s looking around? You can’t exactly pull out an assessment tool on the spot.

The new hire-archy

Here are the 3 most important qualities (personal traits) we need to get used to looking for in all of our employees and certainly new hires. And if you watch the video “Passion trumps intellect” by Gary Hamel you’ll understand 1) where I got my inspiration for this topic and 2) why we need to accept some of the old standbys as for granted.

1) Passion

Serendipity. Passion in a potential candidate is both the most important trait AND the easiest to detect because if they’ve got it, it’s usually hard to miss. If you see passion beaming from an individual, grab it if you can, it’s rare. If you’re not sure, ask what their dream job would look like and then look for the cutting sparks in their eyes as they talk about it. Listen for a desire to do things differently or try something that hasn’t been tried before. That’s what passion looks like. Get it and encourage it. Caveat: Passionate people are seldom content with status quo.

2) Creativity

Creativity is the next most important trait to look for in a potential candidate. If you hear someone talk about what they learned somewhere else or in another industry you’re probably staring at curious (creative) energy. They have a need to find solution to challenging problems. They challenge status quo and (help you) question almost everything you do. People who are creative are motivated by a task and have the courage to try new things and risk failure. They are also rare. Caveat: Creative people need to be nurtured and protected from naysayers, otherwise they get burnt out.

3) Initiative

Initiative is critical for success. People who have initiative don’t wait for an invitation with a pretty bow. They start to move before anyone says it’s okay. They take responsible action before its obvious to others. People with initiative are very self-confident. To detect initiative, throw them the tough questions:

  1. What have you done about your professional development in the last three years?
  2. If your supervisor became ill and you had to step in for six months, what is the first thing you would do?

Caveat: People who have initiative are self-starters that tend to be creative. They are always looking for opportunity to put ideas into action but they are also easily bored with routine tasks.

Last word

You can always give someone experience. But if they possess initiative and passion for the business, you won’t be wasting your time because they’re probably not going anywhere but up. Sometimes you just need to get out of the way.

HIT Solutions believes the more your business keeps up with important trends, the more you will improve your product, and improve your bottom line.

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