Every person is hired to perform or deliver something that you value. Considering the simplicity of this statement, why is it so hard? Why do large companies continuously hire dead weight?

It may sound like these are baseless questions, but looking at the numbers there is a serious problem with the talent that companies are hiring. In a macro analysis study by Gallup, 68.5% of employees were found to be disengaged at work. What does this mean? Gallup State of the American Workplace.PNGThat means in the US if you manage a team of 10 people or have 9 coworkers, almost 7 of those people will be “dead weight” employees. This means that these employees are “…essentially ‘checked out’. They’re sleepwalking through their work day…” Even worse, of these 7 employees, 1-2 of these employees will be actively disengaged. These actively disengaged employees cost US business an estimated $450-$550 BILLION a year.
So how can hiring this dead weight be avoided?

The biggest indicator of how someone is going to perform is based upon two things. Personality and willingness to learn. Identifying the personality traits that are needed in the job and sussing out a potential candidate’s personality is up to the person hiring, but with a shift in thinking and process can be done more effectively.

Make a Biography

At the end of the day, hiring someone just based upon interviews is flawed. With the candidate sitting in front of you most likely trying to sell themselves, how can we get to the core of someone’s personality and goals to ensure that they align to the organization?

According to Praxent’s Tim Hamilton, adapting the methodology from Who, the goal of an interview process should be to gather as much data on a candidate as possible. The focus should be on a broader scope than the professional life or face that is put forward in an interview. By asking about the details of someone’s past and constructing a story of the overall trajectory of an individuals life, trends and characteristics can be found that reveal personality traits that a person may not be explicitly aware of (or unwilling to reveal). The more data points that are able to gleaned from the gathering of this biography, the more confident that you can be that the person who you are interviewing has the personality traits that the team needs. By the time an individual is going through the hiring process, it is reasonable to assume that the personality of the individual is relatively solidified so the usefulness of the biography should be high. If a candidate doesn’t have the right personality now, it is unlikely anyone will be able to change or mold the candidates personality once hired.

Importance of Learners

From the details presented here (and other research), the finding is that all the types of employees learning on the job had a high correlation to job performance when compared to other variables. The implication? Hiring individuals who can and want to learn is the most likely way to hire top job performers. This may seem obvious, but what is not correlated to job performance and how does that match up to the regular hiring process?

Picture of Job Performance PredictorsThe correlation of job-performance with experience is .18 in this study, and in other studies as low as .03. Meaning that one of the most highly weighted factors (experience) that is brought in to asses candidates is not the most predictive of job performance.

If an organization conducted the best interview process ever and hired the most experienced and educated individuals, the hiring would be relying on a flawed methodology that doesn’t accurately account for and weigh the real predictors of job performance.

So what can we do?

Rely on measuring what is proven to lead to high job performance in the hiring process. Don’t heavily weigh an applicants experience other than to ensure the required technical skills. Ensure that the candidate has a goal and personality fit with what is needed for the position. Create an organization comprised of learners. Construct a biography, ascertain personality traits from this, and determine whether the candidate is willing to learn based upon their personality and goals. This may not be a sure-fire methodology, but it seems to be the best way currently available to ensure that the billions of loses incurred every year due to disengaged employees will not include a contribution from your organization.

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