Hire for the Person, Not the Role
I know I’m going out on a limb here because almost every human resources professional I have ever met says: “You need to clearly define the job role and then hire for that role”. Although I appreciate the historical reasons for this approach and have even been seduced by what seems like intuitive wisdom, experience has taught me that this approach is backwards. I wholeheartedly believe you should hire for the person, not the role. I know, I will likely be hunted as a heretical witch, to be tried and burnt at the stake by the “human resources inquisition”, but I fundamentally think that the very title “human resources” should be removed from all the corporate terminology anyway. Perhaps it might be best for “human resources” to be stricken from the English language altogether. Now that I have finished on my soapbox, I will get back to what this article is about; hire for the person, not the role. ## What is the Right Place for a Role Description? It’s not to say that the role or role description isn’t important in hiring, it is, for a day. Rather than focusing on listing everything out for a role description, you need to be clear about the current gaps in your team. Ask yourself, what’s the job that needs to be done? There definitely needs to be time spent defining the Skilz that are missing and what the person would do if they were to join your team. ## How Long do Role Descriptions Last? I’d like you to consider this; how long do you think a role description lasts? Personally, I give it a day, and it is the day the new team member is hired. Why only one day you ask? Once you have the right person in your team, it only takes a few days for them to change their role. It is important to remember that you are not hiring a role, you are hiring a human being who has aspirations, experience, capabilities, talent, and a darn good reason to come and join your team. Once they start learning new skills, they will make the job, the role, and the work their own. When they own the work and start expanding what they can do, how long does that original role description going to last? Not very long if that person is highly energised and highly capable of the role. A highly skilled, highly energised person will start taking command over new things they are capable of and need to be done, irrespective of what their role description says. Why? Because having autonomy, mastery and learning are all a part of being human and being highly energised in the work we do every day. If you are nurturing this person to grow and you’ve created the environment for a high-performing, high-energy team, this is what everyone will do. They won’t “drop the ball” for others to fall over, they’ll pick them up and run. They will take every opportunity to learn, to be challenged, and do whatever jobs need to be done without being asked. When they pick up new things, as you have always wanted them to do, guess what? They’ve changed their role description. ## Role Descriptions have the Potential to Kill Energy As I said before, the role description is important, but what we really need to be hiring for is that person who is not only going to be able to address the role we imagine but be able to morph into something else. If we are rigid and push everything into specific boxes of a role and want only people to stay in those lanes of their role, you’re setting yourself up for a person who will transcend the role in days and become de-energised. If you hold them to that role and only to that role, they will stop learning, they will not have a way to express themselves, and they will lose their purpose of why they started working with you in the first place. Sure, if you force it, it might take a month, a year or even five, but eventually, they will lose their soul, and their energy will leave. All the while, they will be sucking the life out of your team and your business. If you are watchful, you might catch them before they leave and move to a new role. However, if you have hired for a person and not a role, you will know that you need to continuously re-craft roles around the people you have. When a person starts showing great capability, dare I call it leadership, and starts taking on new stuff, we change their role description. You might even change their salary to align with their new role. In great teams, we always change the role to match the person. That is what you need to do to keep the best people at high performance. So why are we so fixated on needing a perfectly defined role when we hire someone new? ## Final Thoughts I challenge you to think of a role description only as an articulation of the work that needs to be done on the first day. It certainly helps when writing a job ad and attracting someone with the skills and experience to do the job. However, when a person arrives, know that the role becomes secondary. If you hire the right person, they will always be able to do the role. But hiring just for the right role won’t get you the right person. My suggestion; watch for whoever arrives, and if they have the energy and just enough Skilz to do the role, grab them. The right person will make the role their own. They will even write the role description for themselves without you even asking them to do it. Hire for people, not for roles.
How do you Recruit the Team of your Dreams?
Before we get into how to recruit the team of your dreams, we should probably start by clarifying what your dream team looks like. At SoftSkilz, we have a pretty good idea of what that team looks like. It’s very simple: everyone in the team has the Skilz to do their job, and most importantly, they have a massive amount of energy to do the job within the team. When everybody has high Skilz and high energy, you will have the very definition of a high-performing team. These teams are fun, innovative, creative, imaginative, and challenging. They also outperform others in every measure you can imagine; they make more revenue, make more profit, are safer, and create more new products while making life great to be around. Now that you know what a dream team looks like, building one of these teams sounds easy, right? All you need to do is find people who are highly skilled and highly energised and drop them into your team. Your job is done, right? Unfortunately, in practice, it is a little more involved. If you think about it, somewhere out there is that highly skilled, highly energised person who would fit right into your team. The problem is they are not interested in coming to your team at the moment. I am sure you are wondering why. Even if your company is the best place on the planet to work, that highly skilled and highly energised person is not leaving where they are. That’s because wherever they are, they have everything that they would want. They are enjoying being part of a high-performing, highly skilled team. They will be working in a job that pays them enough to satisfy the way they want to live, they are learning new things, and they feel on purpose with everything they do. So this person is not coming to work for you today. Sorry. They are good just where they are, and they are not even looking for you. ## Hire for potential energy, just not Skilz The person who you will be able to recruit is missing something in their life. They might not be feeling purposeful in the work that they’re doing anymore. They might just not be learning anything anymore. They may have changed the way they want to live and need more money or are looking for more flexibility in the way they go about doing their work every day. What we know for certain is one of those things is likely to be empty in their life and it is stopping them from being the most energetic person they can be. This is your opening. You can recruit that person by offering a place that will pay them enough to enable them to live the way they want to live, learn things they are interested in, and feel purposeful in the work they do with you. When they see this opportunity, they will have an unbelievable amount of energy to come and work with you. Here’s another interesting thing, the person that will be the most energetic may not be the most experienced person you interview. In fact, you are better off with someone who has just enough Skilz for the job so they can learn the rest. If you find the right person, you will tap into the potential energy that is released when we learn new things. That new teammate will be energised to learn Skilz from you that they might not yet have. So when you are looking for someone to join your team, you’re looking for someone that you can help fill that missing energy gap in their life. They will, in return, trade their energy for any new Skilz they might need to acquire. The trick is to hire for potential energy and not for Skilz. Yes, they need to have just enough Skilz to do the tasks you need to get done, but that’s usually the easy bit to sort out. Someone with high energy will always outperform someone with just high Skilz. ## How do you find them? But how do you find them? The trick to finding someone is to uncover where potential hires might be hiding today, and understand why they lost their energy. Imagine if you can, the story of someone that has led them to a juncture in their life where they have the Skilz but have lost their energy. For instance, if you’re looking for a marketing director, they will need to have enough of a background in marketing to be a marketing director, but have lost their energy for their current work. Where are they working today? Perhaps, they have been home taking care of the kids, and are ready to restart their career. Maybe, they have been working in a big company and are bored with the repetition of stale projects and are ready for the new challenges your company can offer them. Are they wanting more autonomy and are looking for the opportunity to learn because they are stuck? Do they want to be in a completely different area of the business? By thinking about the potential stories and recruiting for energy and not just Skilz, you will find those people of your dreams. When you recruit a full team like that, you’ll have the high-performing team of your dreams.
It only takes one person to wreck a team, or even a company
You may already know this, but it only takes one person to wreck your company. It is a result of the axiom that energy is contagious. On the positive end, we can intuit that if you have a team of high performance, they will have this descriptor: everyone in the team will have high Skilz and high energy. The caveat is that EVERYONE needs to be highly energised and highly skilled for a team to be high-performing. More importantly, energy has a greater influence on performance than Skilz. Consider this; if everyone in your team enjoys what they’re doing, they are learning something new, feel purposeful in what they’re doing and are remunerated appropriately, everybody will have high energy. Here’s the thing, we also know that it only takes one person to have low energy, and the entire team will suffer. It turns out that energy, both positive and negative, is contagious. High-energy teams bounce off each other, feed off one another, challenge each other, and move their work and outcomes to new heights. On the flip side, it only takes one person’s negative energy to suck the energy from the whole team. So often, we find those who “suck” our energy are highly skilled and tremendously experienced people who have been exceptionally successful in their own right. They can be some of the most senior people in an organisation; they may hold positions at the high ends of management, even at the board level. These “energy suckers” have all the capabilities needed for their job. Unfortunately, they do not have the energy for it (or might even bring negative energy). It is this person who will suck the life out of everyone else. You would have heard people say: “A players want to play only with A players”, ”it only takes one”, or even “a fish rots from the top”. They’re all expressions of the same thing; if a person with negative energy is near the top of an organisation, they can do a lot of damage. Certainly, the team will be ruined, and if the person is high enough in your senior management team or your board, they can ruin your entire company.
Energy is the Secret Sauce for a High-Performing Team
Energy is the secret sauce for a high-performing team. But you already knew that. Before you continue reading, I would like to ask you a question. How much energy do you have today? Pick a number from 0-100%. Quickly answer that question, I’ll wait. Did you write down or make a mental note of what your number is today? Now that you have your number, you’re okay to read on. If you are like the thousands of other people who have done this very exercise, everyone can quickly write down or identify a numeric value, a percentage in fact, of how much energy they have. What is surprising, is that almost without fail, no one ever asks for the definition of energy. That’s because we already know what it is. ## Energy is an Empirical & Complex Value I promise I will not ask too many more questions, but if you have a moment, reflect on the number that you just wrote down, your number for today. What is your definition or interpretation of energy and how did you come up with this number? It is okay if you cannot succinctly define it, thousands of people have answered that question for us already, and they always come up with variations on the same thing. Although the number was easy to come up with, energy is complex. It is made up of many factors. Energy has to do with your body, for example, how much sleep you’ve had, whether you are sick or feeling pumped from a workout. You might have come to your number reflecting on how your mind is today; how clear you are, how excited you are (even for reading this post) and the other things that have your attention at the moment. You might have also pointed to the “ je ne sais quoi” or “the vibe” of how you are, or perhaps “the spirit of things” in your life at the moment, or how things are going for you. Your number will also reflect in the culture of what’s happening around you at home and perhaps at work. ## Energy is Identifiable by Others So, that quick number you came up with when you think about it, is a reduction of some of these very complex components as they stand for you today. I still find it amazing that all of us are able to come up with such a multifaceted number so quickly. But here is the really fascinating thing about that number. How much energy you have is a very practical and useful number. In fact, energy for all practical purposes is a reliable gauge of how you’re going today and also a reliable gauge of assessing how others around you are going as well. Think about the family members that you have around you or your work colleagues, I suspect that you will be able to gauge their numbers reliably within about 10% on any given day. And if you can, you’re not alone. ## Secret Sauce? Most importantly, I would say that the key differentiator between a high-performing team and one that is not performing to its fullest potential, is energy. If EVERYBODY in a team has high energy, they will be a high-performing team. Being in a team that has high energy is incredibly fun. That team will be creative, innovative, challenging, mindful, safer, faster, more innovative, more profitable and better in almost every measure. What’s more, just being in that team gives you more energy. It’s a great feeling when you live in a team like that. So really, energy is really the secret sauce to be looking for in any team in any organisation. But you knew that already. It’s not much of a secret, is it?