Much has been written recently about the importance of aligning the work we do with how we are wired. From Jim Collins telling us to get the right people on the right seats on the bus, to use of the Enneagram and everything in between, it should be obvious by now that productivity and fulfillment at work comes when we can align our values and skills with a role that matches.
Yet, I’m amazed today at how many people I meet are “stuck” in a job they hate, and how many managers keep people in roles even though they know it’s not working out. I’m not really sure why so often “status quo” is the answer. Maybe it’s belief in the myth that there’s no time to consider a change. Or maybe it’s buying into the idea that “It is what it is”. I, however, think it’s something more. My experience in working with executives leads me to believe that many just don’t have a process for assessing people and roles for optimal fit.
Over the years, I’ve worked with both individual job seekers as well as managers to help employees “find their fit”. What follows is the process I’ve walked them through. I’ll warn you, if you are looking for the “quick fix”, this isn’t for you. However, if you are willing to invest the right amount of time, you will find the right fit for you or your team, which will lead to greater effectiveness and satisfaction.
I once worked with a company that had two methods of hiring: 1) Hire based on data; 2) Hire based on gut feel. Without a doubt, virtually every hire that used method number #1 was a positive experience. Conversely, most hires based on method #2 ended in failure. So how does one hire based on data? By using assessments.
Yes, I know…there are seemingly thousands of them. So, which ones will give the data-driven insights needed? I have found the following ones to be most helpful…
- The Kolbe Index: This tool measures what actions a person tends to gravitate to based on their natural instincts. The tool has multiple parts for assessing job roles, assessing employees, then comparing both to find alignment.
- Gallup StrengthsFinders: This popular tool helps to identify one’s innate talents. Once skills training is added to talents, those talents become strengths. Gallup’s premise is that the best workers work out of their strengths.
- The Thinking Wavelength: Developed by Tom Paterson, this tool measures how an individual processes and acts on information. Respondents are plotted on a continuum with one extreme being a “just-tell-me-what-to-do-and-I’ll-get-it-done” thinker, and the other being the visionary theorist. This is a great tool to measure expected outcomes.
Of course there are many more, but I have found these three most helpful. When determining which tools to use, I suggest implementing no less than 3 tools, with each measuring a different aspect (thinking, personality, skills, etc.)
REVIEW THE FINDINGS TOGETHER
Once you have the findings from the assessments, it’s important to not only process the information, but to do so with someone else. I have found that a combination of internal and external resources can be of huge help here. For example, analyzing the data with fellow managers gives the shared perspective of a team who understands the company culture. Conversely, working through the assessments with an outside coach or consultant will provide a more objective point of view. As the proverb says, “In the multitude of counselors, there is wisdom.”
HIGHLIGHT THE TOP FIVE ATTRIBUTES
After you have the multiple perspectives, seek to summarize the data and analysis by listing the top 5 attributes of the candidate or employee. Here’s an example…
- Strategic: Seems to understand the big picture and how to use practical tactics to achieve long term goals
- Connector: Understands the value of bringing people with various skill sets together to achieve the objective
- Conservative: Not a big risk taker; researches carefully before launching
- Keeper: Able to manage multiple tasks or people at one time
- Servant Leader: Puts team ahead of self interest
The assessments you use will help you develop language and descriptors for the top 5 attributes.
MEASURE THE ROLE AGAINST THOSE ATTRIBUTES
Separately, conduct steps 1-3 against the job role you are considering. In other words, create a profile for the job role. This profile should describe the ideal candidate. Once you have the profile, you can then use it and measure it against the top 5 attributes for each candidate. So, in the example above, if the job role requires someone with more of an entrepreneurial spirit (a risk taker), then the “conservative” person wouldn’t be a good fit. Assessments such as Kolbe already have this “compare and contrast” function built in, and they’re usually spot on.
DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN AN “A” GRADE
This is probably the biggest tendency I see among hiring executives. When the process of finding the right person takes too long, they settle. This is often justified by rationale such as “We need this person by the end of Q2”. However, the reality is that I have never seen a situation where a rushed, less than optimum hire didn’t cost the company in some way. Conversely, when I’ve watched the hiring process patiently put into practice, the ROI has been noticeably evident. In short, it’s “Do it Now” versus “Do It Right”. “Do It Right” wins every time.