Stay Relevant Longer

Posted by Joseph Sherren on January 13, 2014

When I was growing up in a family of 10 kids, we never paid much attention to expiry dates, since food would never last very long in our house. I am not even sure if there were “best before” labels on most products back then.

Now, everything has an expiry date: food, batteries, licences, vehicles, store coupons and the list goes on. As a management consultant and recruitment advisor, I have discovered that the skills and knowledge of employees and managers also have an expiry date.

That best before date is determined mainly by how much the individual is willing to invest in his or her own personal development. For people who have not participated in a professional development program in the last 12 months, their expiration is coming soon.

For those who have not read a book in the last six months, it will come even faster. Individuals who do not constantly upgrade their knowledge and skills or learn some new technology may soon pass their “best before” date.

The corporation where I worked many years ago had a policy that all professionals were required to participate in two weeks of education and skills development each year. As well, it was mandatory that each supervisor and leader receive 40 hours of people management training every year.

The ability to extend people’s best before date begins at the hiring.  According to a ground-breaking study by Leadership IQ, 46 per cent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  But contrary to popular belief, technical skills are not the primary reason why new hires fail; instead, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list, flaws which many of their managers admit were overlooked during the interview process.

Of all the decisions a leader has to make, hiring is the most critical. A great product, service or vision without great people will soon become insignificant. A company’s future is in the hands of the people they hire and by how much they invest in their development. Therefore, you should hire for attitude and talent, and then constantly train for skill and knowledge.

How do you identify, hire and develop the right people with the right attitude?

  1. Begin by doing an assessment of all current employees. Identify the high performers and develop a benchmark profile of the individual who best fits each position. Use this as a guideline to compare all future hires.
  2. Look for a values match. Shared values for an organization should be non-negotiable. You want independent thinking and a diversity of ideas in the business. However, they need to share the basic principles of the culture. An old boss of mine used to say; “We need wild ducks in this company — as long as they fly in formation”.
  3. When hiring or promoting managers, assess their emotional strength. A potential leader needs to have mental toughness to endure criticism and overcome disappointments. However, they must have a compassion for people and want the best for their staff.
  4. Examine past behaviour. Have they demonstrated an attitude for learning and taking on challenges? Do they see challenges as learning opportunities? What training or education did they acquire in their last position?

It is far less expensive to hire than to fire. So take the time up front to ensure you employ the right people with a personal commitment to learning. This way you can extend their expiry date and ensure long-term success for your organization and your staff.

My question for managers this week, what processes and assessments do you use when hiring potential employees, and what strategy do you have for continually developing your staff?

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