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Hire and Inspire Great People that Fit!

Author: Jerry Olson - Sept 2014


Did you know that gathering great people around you is a critical key to the greater good of your organization and its success?  As the line from a recent television ad goes, “everyone knows that.”  Gino Wickman tells readers of Traction that “People” is one of the six key components of operating and growing a successful business.  Jim Collins told us “First Who, Then What” in his book Good to Great.

How do you move from talking about gathering great people around you to actually doing it?  Frequently the recruiting and hiring process results in hiring someone the hiring manager likes, but ends in disappointment in results and greater good for the organization. Yet hiring managers and HR professionals cling to the same recruiting and hiring tactics even when the results they get are not what they hope for.  A hiring manager urgently in need of filling an open spot who is overconfident about being a “great judge of people” combined with well-coached candidates desperate for a job combine to almost guarantee disappointment.

Here are four steps to begin overcoming frequent disappointment in the staffing process.

  1.  Clarify organizational values
  2.  Know the job.
  3.   Identify Keys to Success
  4.   Find Keys to Success in Candidates

The good “fit” of each person into the organizational culture depends on the sharing of common values. Sorting through this in the selection process is critical to a successful hire.  The first step is to be clear about your organizational values beyond a set of words on paper.  This requires knowing what behaviors and attitudes demonstrate the desired values and having good ways to identify these behaviors and attitudes in each candidate.

“Know the job” on the surface seems over-simplified.  “I manage this job.  Of course I know the job” is a frequent response from hiring managers.  Are you crystal clear about the key accountabilities in the job?  What are the few things that are core to the job?  In staffing, like so many other areas, less is more.  Go through the job description and separate the “wheat” from the “chafe”.  Whittle that laundry list of tasks and duties down to five to seven key accountabilities for the job.  What is most important?

Once the key accountabilities are clear then identify what success looks like in the job.  What metrics must be met?  What results must be achieved?  Where does this work add to the top revenue line?  What additions will this job make to the bottom line?  Paint a clear picture of what success looks like.

Once you have this picture of success, identify what it takes to accomplish this success.  What are the “Keys to Success” in this job?  What qualifications, qualities, characteristics, talents, or experiences are key to success? Focus on the keys that differentiate great results from mediocrity and what it takes to get these results.  Find the 20% that gets 80% of the results in the position.  Again this should be a short list of five to seven key characteristics, qualifications, talents, or experiences.

Once the job and its keys to success are clear, a selection process can be built on the simple question “How will we know if the candidate has these keys to success?”  It quickly becomes apparent that knowing if the candidate really has they keys to success takes more work than just asking “Do you have what we’re looking for?”  The answer of “Yes!” simply tells you that the candidate knows what answer you desire.

Use the following methods to answer the question “does the candidate have the keys to success?”: proven past behaviors and results; observation; open-ended questions; reference checking; work samples or demonstration; and assessments or tests.  Incorporate these tactics into your selection process will lead to better results and greater good for your organization.


This is the first piece in our three-part series, titled: Hire and Inspire Great People that Fit!” Check back for Part II, “Why ‘I’m a great judge of people’ results in a bad hire” next month!

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