Much has been said recently about the dichotomy in our U.S. workforce. We seem to have a significant level of unemployed and “underemployed” people, but a shortage of the folks we want/need.
Ever since the great recession, folks have been worried about who to hire and when. In my view, this question has always been around. The recession may have exacerbated the situation, but it has always been with us.
Right Bus? Right Person? Right Seat?
To use a well-worn phrase, “getting the right people on the bus and in the right seat” is a challenging job. It is especially challenging if you are actively managing your corporate culture—and I believe we all should be.
How do we interview in such a way that we can understand that a person’s values match our culture (values) and that s/he will be a great addition to our team? Technical Competency isn’t really that big a deal. We can train where we need to. But we cannot (easily, if at all) change a person’s values.
“Hire the best when you find them. The work will follow.”—Peter Salvati, CEO of DPR Construction
I don’t intend to try to cover all the interviewing best practices in this post. I do want to acknowledge that to hire correctly is a long and involved process. Therefore, our leadership team and we should be “hiring” or “interviewing” all the time. As Mr. Salvati suggests, when we find the “right person,” we should get them on board and not worry about the economics. As he explained his experience to us, the work (revenue) will follow. If the person we hired is the right person, they will pay their own way before too long.
Hire for Attitude, Train for Aptitude!
Another comment Mr. Salvati made was that his practice is to “hire for attitude and train for aptitude.” He felt that it was far more critical to make sure of the “fit” than it was to worry too much about the technical competency. It is vital to make sure that the necessary skills are in place, but to worry so much about hiring someone we don’t have to train at all (I want ten years of industry experience) may be short-sighted.
We are in a period where the workforce is being disrupted by technology. The skills we believe we need, familiarity with technology, are hard to find. We have displaced many workers who have not been able to gain the skills to work side-by-side with intelligent machines. Those workers are, mostly obsolete.
Culture Trumps Everything
Need we stop there? What if we hire for attitude (culture fit, values) and find our own way to train for the machine age aptitude? Won’t we be better off in the long run? When we meet that person who shares our values, is willing and able to learn new skills and is obviously a team player, then why not hire them right away before someone else does? Peter Salvati stated that for him, doing exactly that turned out to be a competitive advantage. Why not for you too?
Updated format 10/1/2019