Hire for Attitude

In a very well quoted phrase (which I think originated from clergyman Charles R Swindoll) Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Your attitude to everything, from politics to society from family to work, is what makes you, you and what differentiates you from everyone else.

In the book Fish! by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen one of the four key principles is: Choose your Attitude. This is a philosophy which we should all be using in our lives, every minute of every day.

While we as business owners are able to teach ourselves to do this, we also need our staff to take this approach to life. We need to recruit and retain the staff with the right attitude.

It is not easy recruiting for attitude, but here are some suggested questioning funnels you can use as part of your behavioural interview process:

  • Tell me about a time when something went VERY wrong. What was your involvement in the situation? Who was to blame? What did you do to rectify the situation? How did you feel? What did you learn from the situation? Have you ever had a similar situation where you put that learning into play to prevent a similar BAD outcome?

In this case you are looking for someone who accepts responsibility, learns from the experience and recognises how to turn a negative into a positive.

  • Tell me about a time when you have got really angry with a colleague. What was the impact on the business? What was the previous relationship between the two of you? Had you ever done anything to try to remedy the situation before the incident? How is your working relationship now?

In this questioning funnel, you are digging for evidence of a team player who recognises that not everyone will get on all the time, but who understands the needs of the business and puts these over and above their personal feelings.

  • Tell me about a time when you went over and above to resolve a customer (internal or external) issue. Why was this necessary? Why would normal practices not have been sufficient? What authority did you have? What influence did you have? What other elements did you consider before acting? What was the outcome? How did you feel? Would you do anything differently next time? Have you affected any longer term changes?

In this example, you are looking for someone who is working outside the box, but still within the company frameworks, ethos and culture. They need to have acted with an awareness for the wider impact on the business in terms of financial and reputational impact. They need to be aware of precedent being set and not encouraging others to break rules. Where processes or policies need to change, they need to approach this in a professional and commercial manner and seek full buy-in for the change.

Recruiting people with the right attitude is crucial for your business. You need to be able to trust people to be better than you are in their roles. They need to understand and accept authority and know how to help you, the business owner, drive the business forward.

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