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Rethink Hiring For Technical Skills, Firing For Performance

Do you find your company hiring employees for their technical skills and firing them for performance issues? Many companies focus on hiring and promoting employees based on technical skills. What is wrong with this picture? Hiring for technical skills overlooks the fact that people are people, not robots.

People develop very deep behavioral competencies, both good and bad, throughout their lives. These behavioral competencies have an impact on the very work habits and attitudes they bring to the workplace. In addition, few employees are fired for lack of technical skills or ability. A much larger percentage are fired for performance issues.

Have you ever seen the technical whiz who was an outstanding performer promoted to a leadership position who couldnít let go of the technical duties and who was also a poor leader? How about incidents of hiring new employees with the right technical skills only to find some essential performance skill missing?

Over the years, Iíve listened to many managers lament that many of their employees lacked the right attitude to be successful. Probing further, Iíve found that when we focused on attitude, the real problems ranged from a lack of self-control under pressure, little diligence in getting the job done, lack of flexibility in dealing with change, poor teamwork, or a lack of similar abilities.

What managers categorized as attitude actually could be defined and measured. Let me share an example. At one company, a customer service representative who took orders from customers was found to have over $300,000 in unprocessed orders, spanning over three months, in her desk. This was $300,000 of lost opportunity for the company. Why? It wasnít because she didnít know how to operate the computer system. This person lacked capability in such competencies as attention to detail, commitment to task, and customer service focus, all essential to this position.

Can software engineers, accountants, marketing managers, or other employees have a similar impact on the bottom line?

Finding ways to increase the effectiveness of the selection process to reduce the number of bad hires is becoming increasingly important, especially in todayís tight labor market. Hiring a warm body that produces little is expensive. Many companies are placing more emphasis on finding and keeping human assets in order to stay ahead of the competition.

The most widely used selection tool is the employment interview. In spite of the wide use of interviews, recent research has confirmed that the traditional interview has only a 15% to 30% chance of accurately predicting job performance. Using a structured process, based on a job-specific analysis of essential competencies, can achieve better than to 80% reliability in predicting job performance.

The key to achieving better than 80% reliability is combining a competency and behavioral-based interviewing process to measure and predict job performance before hiring potential employees. The competency-based process should include both technical and behavioral competencies to ensure the essential competencies are present for success in the position.

Once a structured interview is created, a behavioral-based interview is used to collect job-related examples of behavior from a candidate.

Whether or not you believe people are a companyís most important resource, each hiring decision affects the company directly in terms of salary and benefits. They affect the bottom line in terms of morale, image, or customer satisfaction. Hiring for technical skills without assessing the behavioral competencies is like buying car with out driving it. You can tell itís a car, but you donít know if you are going to get what you expect.

Submitted by:

Stephen Moulton

Stephen Moulton is the Chief Consultant of Action Insight, author, software inventor, and competency guru. He can be reached at 303-439-2001 or http://www.actioninsight.com.




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