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Getting the Right People - People Who Fit

Aug 17, 2007
Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talks about "getting the right people on the bus" before deciding where to drive it.

A key factor in getting the right people is understanding what competencies we are looking for and how to find out if someone has these.

Identifying knowledge and skills is relatively easy - those above water in our Iceberg model, (Milkovich and Newman), but those underwater -self concepts, traits and motives were more difficult. However, there is a technique to help us.

Firstly we need to define what competencies we are looking for. What did past successful people have, what did the failures lack, what is required to take us forward. Once these have been defined in terms of specific behaviours required, we need to see if a potential employee has had an opportunity to demonstrate these and then to find out if they possess them.

An example may be the competency of "Initiative". Has the candidate been in a job where they could have displayed this competency? Most people have.

We can then ask the question "tell me about the last time you came across a problem with the way the xyz process worked in your current job. You can then probe to find out what they did about it.

Use several examples and really get down to the detail to the extent that you are fairly sure they did consistently what they are telling you. If this is the case there is a good chance they will repeat this behaviour in the future.

Take out more insurance though. While they are telling you what happened, ask about the other people involved and take down their names. Then ask if you can call these people. During your reference checking, verify what they are telling you is factual and not what they think they should have done or would have liked to have done.

If you carefully define what you think are the competencies of the people who will fit, plan the questions you are going to ask and be tenacious in making sure their past behaviour demonstrates these competencies, you will have increased your chance of finding the right person.

The business benefits
By having key corporate competencies, detailed in terms of behaviours, and rigorously using these to recruit, develop and manage performance will build the culture you want and will save the expense of hiring, or keeping, people who don't fit.
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations. www.horizonmg.com
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