Life themes can be a power tool for hiring. But like all power tools, the owner's manual comes with recommendations and warnings. One warning: companies should recognize that sophisticated selection raises the stakes for management. Put simply, when you hire the right people, you have to treat them right. Top-ranking performers are the first to leave when companies break promises or scale back opportunities. Companies who hire right have taken only one step on the road to great service.
One recommendation: at least some of the lessons from Gallup's system, or that of Talent+ or any other successful company with a highly developed selection methodology, are transferable without adopting the entire system or hiring the company. Perhaps the most important lesson is that these hiring systems are elaborate demonstrations of the Hawthorne effect - the proposition that any process improves once you start paying attention to it.
Beyond that observation, there are three principles that any company can apply to evaluate how it recruits and selects new people. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you really understand the position you're filling? Have you done a careful job of writing down the skills and capabilities that you believe are required to perform it? Do you appreciate the importance to your business of filling this job with the best people you can find?
- Have you analyzed in a systematic way those particular talents that differentiate the strongest and weakest performers in your company? Do you have a detailed enough appreciation for those differences so that you could use them to conduct meaningful evaluations and provide in-depth feedback to people now in the job?
- Have you applied the learning from questions one and two to the hiring process? Do you have good job descriptions and realistic job previews against which to measure applicants?
These simple questions can help create an approach to hiring that will make a difference in the quality of your people - and thus the quality your organization delivers.
- 1.How to Hire by wire
- 2.The Theory Behind Life Themes
- 3.The Art and Science of Evaluation
- 4.Stryker Makes It Work
- 5.Hiring with a Power Tool
A version of this article appeared in the Prototype Issue issue of Fast Company magazine.