How much of the time allocated for job interviews is spent on trainable skills rather than unchanging values and traits? It is completely reasonable to hire people on account of their immediate ability to perform tasks. Employers often open a job because the need is immediate. As such, teams are looking to find a person that will be able to perform very quickly. There is nothing wrong with that. What becomes problematic is to put too much value on skills, and too little on values, traits and synergy.
Imagine someone joins your team because they have ALL the skills you are looking for but clearly disrupts the team dynamics because of their attitude and mismatch in core principles. How do we evaluate the added value of skills against the tensions and disruptions in the team? Let’s say the new person is hired because of their strong ability to include social media initiatives in the company’s efforts. The positive may be that the corporation will be able to post news, innovations, events and other important information, frequently and with effectiveness. In turn this will likely create new business, or consolidate the corporate image to retain existing business. Now, while the new person is able to perform their task, this individual also makes many others on the team very uncomfortable. Let’s assume that the discomfort comes from the rudeness, and lack of respect and understanding of the new person. In addition, the new employee has no interest in understanding the realities of the people responsible for creating the news, innovations, events and other important information to be added to the social media initiative. As a result, what ends up being published may be of lesser quality. Why? Some of the reasons may be linked to pressure to meet new deadlines, lack of clarity on the format necessary for best social media impact, reduced motivation to help a colleague that treats us with disrespect, stress, and a multiple of other aspects. Why is that the problem of the new person? It isn’t. If the team in place has always been competent in their roles, the problem resides in the person that hired the new person. If the current team was not effective for some reason, the problem lies with the leader of that team for not managing the problem, and hiring the new person at the time they did.
Now imagine that the new person is not as skilled as the other we just described but is determined to mesh with the existing team, learn from them, about their respective roles, and explain what needs to be done for the social media initiatives to work. The new person’s ability may, in the short term, be less impressive than the other person but still, their abilities are very decent, and the information that is transmitted is of higher quality. Which of the two situations seems most productive? Looking at both examples of new people, which one is most likely to learn from others and increase their social media competencies in the next 6 months. Furthermore, depending on the stress and disruption of hiring the fist new person, what will be the costs associated to one or two or more people from the existing team leaving?
I have been in rooms full of new hires to provide development of various skills. I have experienced the disruption of individuals thinking that they were above such efforts because their perception was that they were stars, hired specifically for their existing skills rather that their determination to work as a team, or to learn new approaches. I have witnessed the decrease in productivity of the whole team because of mismatched values, traits and synergy. And, I have been privy to teams loosing up to 50% of its members within a year or two of “prima donnas” being hired. In the vast majority of cases, the corporation (and its clients) lost much more than they gained.
Competencies can be learned and developed. Values and traits are deep seated and seldom change. A corporation needs to hire accordingly.