Your Future Depends on Who You Select

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 9, Issue No. 5
August, 2010

By Dan Coughlin



News Flash #1: As the recession recedes, companies will start hiring more employees.

News Flash #2: The people you choose to hire will be the single most important factor in the future success of your career.

Of all the things you will do at work in the next six months, hiring the right people will be the most important. Now is the best time to find the very best new employees for your company’s future growth. Here are six keys to keep in mind.

You are Hiring Behaviors

Values are beliefs that drive behaviors. When you hire someone, you are hiring his or her behaviors. People really don’t change as much as we think they are going to. The way a person has consistently acted over the past five years is going to be how he or she will consistently act in your company. Are the person’s behaviors what you want in your business?

If you think that values and behaviors are just fluff, then let me put it this way. Imagine you are not allowed to fire this new hire for at least three years. Now imagine that everyone knows that you hired the person. Consequently, every person who interacts with your new hire is going to see this person’s behaviors as a representative of you. Are you comfortable having this person that you are about to hire represent you to everyone in your company and to every supplier and every customer? Are the values this person demonstrates in alignment with the values that you believe in?

Regardless of how technically strong or experienced this person is, if you are not ok having him or her represent you to other people then I suggest you don’t hire the person. Right now there are an incredible number of talented people looking for good jobs. You should always be choosy in who you hire, but now you can be even more selective about who you put on your team.

Technical Skill Does Matter

Sometimes managers get so caught up in hiring the ‘right kind of people’ that they forget the person has to do a job once he or she is hired. Know which technical skills are most important for each role in your organization. Then develop interview questions, case studies, and role plays to help determine if the individual has the necessary knowledge and skill to do the technical aspects of the job.

You only get to hire so many people, especially since the economic recovery from this recession has not exactly proven to be extraordinarily robust. Each new hire is critically important for the short-term and long-term success of both your business and your career. Make sure the person you’re hiring can actually do the job you are hiring him or her to do.

Complementary Team Player

Look at your current team members. Is this new hire going to add some complementary strength to your team, or is the person going to be a repeat of what you already have? If you have a team of good listeners who are great at covering the details but who are uncomfortable bringing in new business projects, do you really need one more person just like that? Why not search for someone who is different than what you already have? If everyone is extroverted, would your group benefit from someone who is really willing to listen to a variety of opinions and then respond in a thoughtful and logical manner?

Think through not just what the individual brings to your team, but also consider the ramifications of adding this particular set of strengths and passions to the group as it stands right now. You might want someone who is just like the other members of the group. Maybe you want every team member to be a hard-charging, outgoing salesperson. Perhaps you have decided that bringing in someone who is dramatically different than the members of your team would be a catastrophic move. On the other hand, you might feel diversity is of great value in building the business in a sustainable manner. You have to make the call.

Do a Passion Audit

Behaving the right way and having the ability to do the job will increase the chances that the person will do at least an ok job. Of course, doing just an ‘ok job’ is not going to help your business achieve great results in the future. You need people who are both competent and passionate about the role you are going to put them in.

A time-honored interview question is, ‘What are you good at doing?’ One of my favorites is, ‘What are you passionate about doing?’ One of my clients asks that question of every potential new hire. If the person is not passionate about anything, then my client questions whether the person will bring real passion to working for his company.

Ask the person, ‘Why us? Why do you want to work here? What is it about our company that you like?’ You will see very quickly if the person has any real passion for your organization and/or the role he or she is being considered for. Without passion, what are the odds of the person delivering the kind of performance that will make you look really good? My hunch is that the odds are very, very low.

Avoid Easy Hires Just Because They are Easy

There is a temptation when we are coming out of a very tough economic period to help out our friends and family members. Those are the individuals who very well may have helped you get through this recession. However, just because you know them very well doesn’t mean they are necessarily the best individuals to hire. They may have passion to have a job, but they may not have passion or competency for the job you are filling right now.

Sometimes, and I would say these examples are few and far between, good friends or family members have made outstanding employees who have really dramatically improved the business results. However, those examples are generally true when friends or family members start a business. To have a family member reporting to you in an organization leaves open the possibility to a lot of problems. If the person has exactly the values, technical skills, and passion that you are looking for, then you don’t want to pass up a great talent because you might have problems. Just be sure that the person really has what you think he or she has and not what you hope the person has.

Be Patient in Your Talent Search

Just because you suddenly have money to go out and hire some new talent doesn’t mean that you have to go do it. Take your time and hire the right person for the job. Rushing decisions just for the sake of short-term expediency is part of what got us into the economic mess we were in for the past few years. Take your time and hire the right person. That person will dramatically affect the future success or failure of your career.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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