The Big Picture in Hiring for Attitude

Assessment The Big Picture in Hiring for Attitude

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We strongly believe in hiring for attitude because studies show 45% of all bad hires are a result of attitude and personality conflicts.

After twenty-seven years of closely examining hundreds of organizations, we have witnessed the result of corporate America’s inability to sort the good-natured people from the problem types by just looking at the people they have working for them. Based on what clients have told us and what we have personally witnessed, we outlined these percentages:

Five percent are good-natured employees who are hard working, loyal, cooperative, positive, thoughtful and competent. These employees need little or no supervision. Unfortunately are often taken for granted.

Thirty percent are mostly good-natured and hard working, but have some minor rough edges.

Thirty percent have personality rough edges, such as rule breaking, personal agendas, outspoken negativity and stubbornness. Their rough edges are easily managed, and their productivity more than makes up for the irritations they cause.

Thirty percent have a poor attitude. They are sometimes unwilling, offensive, unmanageable, absent and selfish (have their own agendas), but are productive. Their faults can be hidden for up to a year. While half of them respond satisfactorily to discipline and need plenty of it, the other half keep relapsing back into bad attitudes. The ones that relapse are similar to the next category, but not as bad.

Five percent are the quintessential problem employees. They are unmanageable, emotionally unstable, offensive and scheme away on their own agenda—yet can do a bang-up job. They have an unyielding what’s-in-it-for-me attitude. They don’t (and won’t) respond to correction, discipline, punishment, fines or anything else you can dream up. They may pretend improvement for a few weeks. This is why the “three strikes and you’re out” law came into effect for criminals—these types don’t ever get it. No matter how hard anyone tries to change them, they won’t. And, just like the previous category, the extent of their negativity can be camouflaged for up to a year after being hired.

In reality, most problem people could care less about hiding their ugly side after the probation period is over and they have their medical benefits. Employers keep them around because they are often the most skilled, but the hardest to confront and the most secretive about the total number of problems they cause. Don’t get us wrong, employers know about the problems, but not the overall extent (at least until the employee leaves).

Most managers are relieved when one of these types is gone. The co-workers who had to work closely with them are also relieved. The manager may feel sorry about the loss of skill, ability and know how, but overall are relieved.

 Many problem people who are hired but detected early on and let go are not part of this group. However, they are part of the hiring mistakes.

Isn’t it amazing that companies can survive? And, do you know what—many small ones don’t. From many studies of new companies, we have seen that only about 5% survive their first ten years. We are sure you have noticed some big ones failing, but many of the ones that don’t make it are quite small. They are picked off one by one, not because of market conditions (their competitors survive), but poor management. Because the success of companies depends on people—no, the right people. One of the biggest reasons these failed companies are pushing up daisies is due to management hiring decisions.

A good exercise is to think about those who report to you, by putting them in the pie chart. Be honest. Now you know if your hiring process is better or worse than the average by looking at your own company’s pie chart. If you don’t have people reporting to you, the pie chart won’t be as real, unless you are very observant. The brutal, horrible, painful truth is that too many problem employees, personality misfits and those with low emotional intelligence get hired.

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