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    4. July 11, 2019

      4 Keys to Hiring for Great Impact

      Ginny Trierweiler

      Ginny Trierweiler
      Principal/Slender for Good

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      I work with leaders and managers who have a sense of mission about making the world a better place. Our world NEEDS such leaders! And the rewards for mission-based leaders are about making a meaningful difference in improving the lives of people in their community. 

      Hiring is Priority 1Making a meaningful positive difference as an organization requires that you have strong leadership and capable, engaged staff.  Jim Collins says the first thing you have to do to take your organization from Good to Great is “get the right people on the bus.”  I have found this makes a massive difference in how well an organization functions, as opposed to malfunctions!

      It makes a great difference to our mission and impact when mission-based leaders are able to maximize the number of staff who contribute very positively to the organization’s mission and to minimize the number who don’t contribute or who have a destructive effect on the organization.  So, we must start by hiring the right people to fill positions in our organizations.  But, what must we look for to get “the right people?”

      Based on the research and my 20 years’ experience in hiring and directing programs, I have developed a simple framework for helping to identify where to most effectively target change interventions to achieve the greatest increase in focus and momentum.  


      First, you need to figure out what makes employees successful in the position and role you’re hiring for, and in the organization. Research and experience point to 5 priority areas to consider when hiring, as outlined below.  As you increase your success in hiring for these priority areas, you will improve your organization’s functioning and increase your positive impact.

      Hire for natural, inherent talents and strengths. You can build a much better-performing, more impactful organization when you hire people whose inherent talents will be well-utilized on the job. When people have the opportunity to use their best talents regularly at work, everyone benefits. The employee working in his or her areas of natural strengths enjoys work.  And the organization thrives when it has more people in roles that make good use of their talents.

      Hire people with strong self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-regulation. Research in over 200 companies worldwide suggests that MOST (2/3) of the difference between top performers and average performers is due to emotional competencies, such as these.

      • A person with the competencies of self-awareness recognizes their own emotions and their effects; knows their own strengths and limits; and has confidence in their self-worth and capabilities.
      • Self-motivation refers achievement drive, commitment, initiative, and readiness to act upon opportunities—obviously needed in the workplace. Employees must have a willingness to align their goals with the goals of the organization and an ability to persist in pursuing goals despite obstacles.
      • Self-regulation is the ability to manage distressing emotions and disruptive feelings. Employees in mission-based organizations must have the ability to remain composed and unflappable, able to think and function as a professional, even in difficult moments.

      Hire people with strong social awareness and social skills. Social awareness and social skills represent another subset of the group of skills that best discriminate between top performers and average performers. Being successful in any job requires a certain level of empathy—an ability to sense others’ feelings, take their perspective, and take an active interest in their concerns.  It requires competency in anticipating, recognizing, and meeting customer’s needs and offering appropriate assistance.  It is necessary to possess the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, to listen well, to seek mutual understanding, and welcome full sharing of information. The best employees have the necessary skills to make and maintain personal friendships among work associates, to negotiate and resolve disagreements, handle tense situations with tact, deal with difficult issues and bad news in an open and straightforward manner, and create win-win situations.  

       Hire for “fit” with the organization, the supervisor, and the team. New employees are more likely to become successful employees if there is high congruence of values between the organization and themselves. Aspects of culture that can be important include: innovation versus stability; individual versus team; results versus process; easygoing versus formal or aggressive. Anyone who has been managing people and programs for years knows that “fit” with the culture is often too important to ignore.   

      WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSARY JOB SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS??  Whether the job requires sales, answering phones, fund-raising, writing, or database management, you may need to hire someone with the basic skills to do the job and cannot afford to train in the basic skills—although this is not always true.  And certain specific qualifications such as degrees, certifications, and licenses may be required by law or by funders. 

      I encourage my clients to find ways to streamline the process of ensuring that only candidates with the necessary job skills and qualifications make it into the interview and reference check part of the process, so that they can devote most of that time to assessing for inherent talents, fit, and the kinds of social-emotional competencies that will allow someone to succeed in your organization, in the particular role you’re hiring for, at this time. 

      • Too many times, the majority of the hiring process is devoted to evaluating whether the candidate has the skills and qualifications for the job, at the expense of evaluating whether they have the competencies, talents, and congruent values that will best predict who will excel in the job; and
      • Emphasizing skills and qualifications may lead you to hire the most-qualified individual rather than the individual most likely to succeed in the role.



      • A coach can be just the thought leader you need to get clear about who is most likely to succeed in your organization, and with the specific supervisor.
      • Consultation can be used to help you identify the best questions to ask to get at job candidates’ inherent talents and the fit” with your organization, with the supervisor, and with the role.
      • You can use a skilled consultant and coach to guide you on what to watch and listen for to significantly improve your odds in hiring the best candidates, and avoiding those likely to fail.

       If you would like to explore how coaching and consultation can help you develop the insights and skills to hire and retain the best professionals, I’d love to talk with you. 



      Hiring for natural talents. After conducting a great many studies over more than 30 years, the Gallup organization found that one thing distinguished high-performing managers from the rest – it was this insight:  People don’t change that much. In other words, people are true to their character, with their own unique strengths, perspective, tendencies, and foibles. The best managers understand that it is very worthwhile to try to draw out people’s inherent talents, but it’s not constructive to work at fixing people’s weaknesses.  It’s not an effective approach to try to make everyone well-balanced.  See M. Buckingham and C. Coffman book First, Break All the Rules.

      Hiring for social-emotional competencies, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, and social skills. See Cherniss, 1999, “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence,” at www.eiconsortium.org.

      • Use of emotional competence in hiring reduced the dropout rate of sales people by half and resulted in significantly greater sales (average increase of $91,370 in annual sales) compared to their old selection procedure—an annual net revenue increase of $2.5 million.
      • A large organization reduced turnover in division presidents from 50% to 6% when they shifted from using standard hiring methods to selecting based on emotional competencies such as initiative and self-confidence.
      • Executives selected based on emotional competence were far more likely to perform in the top third.
      • Division leaders with these competencies outperformed their targets by 15 to 20%, while those who lacked them under-performed by almost 20%.
      • The US Air Force increased the ability to hire successful recruiters by nearly three-fold when they focused on emotional intelligence competencies, such as empathy and self-awareness. The result was an immediate savings of $3 million annually.

      Person-organization fit. There is a large body of research on the importance of hiring individuals likely to fit in the culture of an organization, and with the team and the supervisor.  Here are two examples:

      1. Verquer, M. L., Beehr, T. A., & Wagner, S. H. (2003). A meta-analysis of the relations between person-organization fit and work attitudes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63, 473–489.  Meta-analysis revealed that person-organization fit was related to intent to quit, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. 
      2. B.J. Hoffman, D.J. Woehr. (2006).  A quantitative review of the relationship between person–organization fit and behavioral outcomes.  Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68 (2006) 389–399.  Extended the Verquer et al study to address behavioral outcomes variables, finding that person-organization fit was weakly to moderately related to behavioral outcomes including turnover, task performance, and “organizational citizenship behavior;” especially at the level of task performance and job level outcomes. 

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