Since yesterday’s disturbing revelation, I’ve been pondering more on the connection between employee engagement and corporate results.
I had an interesting chat yesterday on this subject with Mario Laudi of Red Canary fame about work he is doing to develop a new business called HireFully which he will be launching next month. Their proposition (if I have it right) is that the way people hire nowadays is just wrong.
Too many managers are looking for a very specific skill set and they are all looking for the very best people with that skill set. As you can imagine, we can’t all get the Chief Architect with 10 years of Java experience who has a PhD from MIT. Some of us will just have to settle for something less in terms of qualifications.
So then how do you figure out who to hire from among the unwashed masses? While popular, scoring and testing of potential hires doesn’t work and employees hate it. According to Mario, what you need to do is find a way to identify those people with integrity, character, self-motivation and a whole host of other behavioural characteristics that make them great performers in spite of the fact that they haven’t got the specific skill set that would be ideal. (This is the job that HireFully will be working to address through their secret sauce.)
Well this got me thinking again. Maybe firms with great results happen also to be good at hiring just because they’re good at business stuff in general. And maybe they happen to hire employees who care, who are naturally engaged.
Think about a few people you’ve worked with. No matter how down they get, no matter how many curve balls they face, they get back up and try to do their best job every day, just because they care, just because they are naturally engaged and nothing you can do as an employer can disengage them.
Maybe employee engagement is a function of who you hire, not what you do. Maybe results are created by people who care, who are naturally engaged anyway. Maybe employee engagement isn’t a function of leadership but of natural tendencies.
I take it you are one of the engaged ones.
Charles – I think there are definitely people whose value system is simple: I signed on for this job, they are paying me to accomplish certain things and it is my responsibility to do my very best. There are also people who will try and get away with as little effort as possible regardless of the incentives available. So – I think you are quite correct in saying the hiring process is key to getting the right people – those with a strong work ethic and positive attitude. I learned long ago – you can train skills but you can’t train attitude.
Absolutely right. Hire for attitude. Train for skills.
I think the best leaders hire based on intangibles like character and chemistry. It just makes sense. They get to lead engaged people who love coming to work and learning new stuff. On the other hand, some employers think that job requirements are more important than the needs of their team. They make hiring decisions primarily on skill-set and experience – and not so much on what the team wants. The result? These ‘leaders’ spend more of their time supervising disengaged subordinates who are qualified to do their job, but do very little for the team.
If you want to build engagement, build it into your job descriptions and selection process.
Don’t you remember the person in every class who said “Will this be on the test?” You’re pretty much saying the same thing. If you don’t measure, manage and compensate for engagement, you won’t get it.