Delivering the Systems and Expertise You Need to Confidently Make Great Hiring Decisions
As I was browsing through the Sunday paper last week there was one article in particular that really caught my eye. It was written by Paul Sullivan of the New York Times and it shared the findings of a new academic study Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Script Inventory published in the current issue of The Journal of Financial Therapy.
Disclaimer: this is a heavy blog post but if you finish it I think you’ll understand why I found it compelling enough to share with you as a Hiring Manager.
He found that some people were under stress about having too little money while others were anxious about losing what they had or felt guilty for having so much. Some people immediately disliked anyone with money, while others would spend their money immediately without regard to the future.
The Klontz study asked 422 people about 72 money-related beliefs and then analyzed correlations among the answers. This produced four broad categories that Klontz called “money scripts”: money avoidance, money worship, money status and money vigilance.
- Money Avoidance: people who may be worried about abusing credit cards. They may believe that they do not deserve to have money and may sabotage their own financial well-being. People in this group tend to have low incomes and net worth. They also tend to be younger.
- Money Worship: the opposite of those with avoidance, but their behaviors are equally destructive. They believe that an increase in income or a windfall will make everything better and love the status derived from the things money can buy. This belief also lands people in debt because they use whatever credit they have to buy things that will impress others. “They believe money will solve all of your problems,” Klontz said. “This is the money belief pattern that afflicts the majority of Americans.”
- Money Equals Status: occurs when people’s self-worth is linked to their net worth. These people often take bigger financial risks because they want to have the stories of big gains to impress their friends. (Don’t expect them to tell you when those big bets do not pay off.)
- Money Vigilance: The only affliction that did not have an overwhelmingly negative impact on people’s financial future. People with this disorder do not like to share information about their income or wealth, but they also do not spend foolishly. Still, excessive wariness about spending can keep these people from enjoying the benefits of what money can buy. On the other hand, while they did not necessarily have higher incomes, they paid off their credit card bills each month. “Maybe some anxiety and vigilance around money is good for your bottom line,” Klontz said.
As Mr. Sullivan insightfully pointed out, “Not surprisingly, the four money scripts illustrate problems that have less to do with money than with what money represents.”
Most of the people in the study identified themselves as “middle class” during their developmental years. Another common thread was how people remembered a financially traumatic moment in their life. Klontz described a case in which a family was beset by debt and about to lose its house. In one case, the grandmother bails out the family. In the other, the family figures out a way to keep the house on its own. The outcome is the same, but the takeaway can be different.
“If grandma swoops in and saves the day, you could walk away from that thinking that you don’t need to worry about money,” he said. “Or where there was a lot of talk about losing the house, that could impact you so you live your life afraid of losing everything.”
What I found most interesting for you as a Hiring Manager was this: One of the goals of the study was to use the results to create a test that therapists and financial advisers could use to quickly understand their clients’ beliefs about money. Klontz estimated that administering the test could save therapists hours of conversation and help them understand how a patient came to a particular belief about money.
Conclusion: if someone you’ve got on your team grew up in an environment where their parents demonstrated destructive behaviors but got bailed out, don’t be surprised when that employee misses deadlines and expects someone else to jump in and save them.
One of my very favorite songs is called Down Together by the Refreshments. The refrain includes the lyrics, “Cars break down and people break down and other things break down too so let’s go…down together”.
I had the chance to have dinner with Chris Mursau last Tuesday night in Chicago and we were discussing the single, most important reason why companies continue to experience a 50% failure rate when it comes to hiring. His assessment: Communication Breakdown.
How does this manifest itself thousands of times a day in the US alone?
- Hiring Managers understand what their priorities are in their role and they (rarely) include hiring talent to earn their bonus. As a result they email someone in HR that says “write me a job description“
- HR, not quite sure what to put in the job description, references similar jobs the company has filled in the past and creates it to get it off of their To Do list.
- The job is posted on the Internet somewhere and the resumes that come in get screened by the HR associate who wasn’t sure about the role in the first place.
- The resumes that pass the initial muster of the HR associate are forwarded to the Hiring Manager who looks at a few and decides to interview some people (though they’re not even sure what the HR team posted on the web)
- The first candidate comes in and the Hiring Manager asks a couple of associates to interview the person too (though these associates don’t have a clue what they’re even supposed to be interviewing for).
- The Hiring Manager narrows the pool down to 2 and then calls HR to ask them to decide who the best one is (again, without providing the HR team the definition of “best”).
If this sounds remotely similar, you’re not alone!
As you’ve likely read on this blog before, I believe there are 3 reasons why a new hire doesn’t work out:
- You failed to clearly define what you needed someone to do
- You failed to clearly articulate to the new hire what you needed them to do to be successful
- You failed to gain the agreement of the new hire on what it will take to be considered successful
I completely understand if you brush off my counsel but choosing to ignore this when even Chris agrees that it’s true is a true sign of foolishness.
Conor Neill, a close friend of mine and a prominent Entrepreneur in Spain, wrote this short story below for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s blog. It’s a great reminder of just how important attitude is in hiring.
Two men, Bill and Frank, begin working at a hotel the same day. They are intelligent, educated and ambitious. The manager of the hotel greets them and hands them both doorman uniforms. They are to begin opening and closing the doors, helping with bags, flagging taxis, etc.
Bill thinks “Doorman? I am worth more than this! I could manage this hotel better than the current guy.” But he doesn’t have an alternative offer and he needs the money, so he does the job anyway. He maintains a pained grimace on his face and deals with customers and other staff in a negative way because he is “better than this.”
Frank, in contrast, thinks “Okay, doorman. It’s not what I had in mind, but hey, I get to spend some time outside, get to meet the customers, and I’ll learn about how this hotel works.” He sets to work with a smile on his face and finds that he quite enjoys the small challenges he faces as a doorman at such a prestigious hotel.
After six weeks, a position at the front desk opens up, and the hotel manager immediately thinks of Frank. Frank is promoted and immediately brings his positive attitude to the front desk of the hotel. Several years later, Frank is the hotel manager. He leaves late one evening and there, opening the door with a hard-wired grimace, is Bill.
Is it luck, or is it fate? Bill will spend forever in a job that he hates and Frank will love every job that he is given. This story is such an inspiration, because it encourages me to always stay positive about my responsibilities and to find the reward in every remedial task. When hiring staff I spend more time exploring attitude and self-motivation than I do exploring capabilities. I also spend time looking to direct my employees toward challenges that are motivating for them.
When it comes to running a business, I’ve learned it’s not just about the results, but the work you put in. That’s where successful people thrive.
A couple of months back I interviewed Patrick Thean about the success he’s experienced in building scorecards for new hires. He provided some great suggestions of the metrics he’s used along with the real-life example of presenting a scorecard to a prospective hire to help her “opt out” of the interviewing process because she determined she wasn’t capable of the job.
- You failed (as the Hiring Manager) to clearly articulate what you needed someone to do
- You failed (as the Hiring Manager) to tell the new hire what you needed them to do
Having a scorecard is a HUGE first step in making sure that you’ve put in the time to define what will determine success for someone who’s just joined your team.
Last month (January ’11) I had the opportunity to meet Pepe Charles from MAP. He’s an expert in helping organizations develop what they call “VITAL FACTORS”. You won’t be surprised to learn that these vital factors are another name for…wait for it…scorecards.
I asked if they’d be willing to share their proprietary vital factors with you as readers of this blog. They graciously said yes and so you can find a very robust list of things that you can measure across departments and skill sets here.
The day that I heard Pepe speak about these vital factors he brought something up that really stunned me (and I was also a bit embarrassed for not having thought of it myself earlier). There’s a very high likelihood that you’ve heard of the acronym SMART for goals. It commonly accepted that the acronym stands for:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Attainable
- R: Realistic
- T: Timely
What Pepe suggested was that the A (typically referred to as attainable) should actually stand for AGREED TO. What a revelation!
In summary, I now have 3 reasons why someone you’ve just hired won’t work out:
- You failed (as the Hiring Manager) to clearly articulate what you needed someone to do
- You failed to tell the new hire what you needed them to do
- You failed to come to an agreement with the new hire on what they needed to do
Sure, there are some experts out there who will tell you that you can always hire A-Players, but I’m not one of them. Considering 54% of all hires are mis-hires (according to a 2000 Fortune Study) we clearly have a problem in America.
The content for discussion today comes from Global Learning Resources CEO Kevin Wheeler. He suggests that great performers tend to emerge over time, rather than appear fully formed at the interview. According to Kevin, there are four ways to improve your hiring and development systems.
1. Don’t look for “A” players, because you don’t really know who they are. Those that you think are the best, the brightest, or the smartest may not be. The problem in looking for the best is that you are always using criteria that are suspect. The fatal flaw inherent in all competency systems is change. What has been successful or what is successful in a particular place may not be in another.
2. Provide development opportunities broadly for everyone and reward and promote those who take advantage of the opportunities. If we believe that talent often emerges where we least expect it, we cannot afford to limit development opportunities only to certain levels or types of employees.
3. Have recruiters aggressively monitor and source internally. Most of the very best talent comes from within and from below. We are all enamored with the outside “guru,” and frequently pass on the person right in front of us who is equipped with the skills, the cultural understanding, and the motivation to excel.
4. Look at selecting people for broad-based competencies. We should be looking to hire people with motivation to learn, with team experience and success, with cultural compatibility, and with a basic technical skill set that can be developed by experiential opportunities and good mentoring. We need to move away from rigorous narrow competency definitions and reliance on experience as an indicator of performance.
Do I disagree with anything that Kevin has shared up to this point?
If you’ve read this blog for awhile and have implemented even 10% of what you’ve learned, you SHOULD have an issue with this last statement of his: “A” players are hard to define and impossible to recruit consistently.
In addition to blogging here I also contribute content to Recruiting Blogs. A slightly modified version of my recent post “How to Prepare for a Topgrading Interview” drew quite a few comments but there was one in particular that I felt deserved some additional attention.
I really believe in the principles of Topgrading, and have cited it along with Brad Smart many times in my own writing, but the candidates I’ve seen subjected to CIDS interviews have NOT had wonderful or even fair experiences. I have three issues with CIDS:
1. It doesn’t apply context. The behaviors analyzed in a CIDS interview can be from 20 years ago, and don’t get asked in a way that aligns with the current goals for the position. I advocate performance objective based questions that elicit the specific skills and experience needed today from the candidate, in the context of the specific job, not in a vacuum.
2. CIDS provides too much ammunition by which to DESELECT a candidate. Not every behavior or lack of behavior from someone’s past is relevant to what is needed today.
3. CIDS interviewers are often inexperienced, and don’t know how to really use the tool to best advantage.
Here are my thoughts in response to Mark:
1. The behaviors analyzed in a CIDS interview may be from 20 years ago but it’s the interviewer’s fault if they allow the discussion to drift into conversations that don’t necessarily align with the current position. On top of that, the basic questions that are used in every position are critical information that you’d want to know about someone – regardless of if the experiences are 20 years old. Example: What was the #1 thing you regret about not accomplishing in that role?
2. At HireBetter this is a discussion that we have a lot. Recommending someone for hire takes courage. It’s nearly always easier for a Hiring Manager or outside consultant suggest that inaction is better than action. Roosevelt nailed it in 1910 when he said [paraphrasing] “It is not the critic that counts. The true credit belongs to the man in the arena.” With that said, if a Hiring Manager has done their homework, they’re clear on what they need someone to do and they conduct a proper CIDS interview, they’re going to be more prepared to make a hiring decision than with any other kind of interview that I’ve seen conducted.
3. It doesn’t take much for someone to learn how to conduct a CIDS interview. However, as I shared in my response to #2, from what I’ve witnessed a poorly conducted CIDS interview is still significantly better than an “on the fly” interview that doesn’t have a structure, purpose or plan.
Bottom line: Mark brings up some good questions and CIDS interviews do have some shortcomings but, in my opinion, there’s not much else out there that will give you a better understanding of if the person you’re interviewing is right for the role you’re looking to fill.
I found this interesting: in the past couple of months the top keyword search strings that lead people to this blog were often about preparing for a Topgrading Interview. The irony is that you can’t really “prepare” for a Topgrading interview. Yes, journaling about your career history, reflecting back on the praise you received or the criticism that challenged you, thinking about your Boss and what you liked or disliked about them – these are all good ideas.
Author’s Note: A couple of months ago I blogged on the dumbest interview questions that people ask and pointed to some of the websites where you can review those questions (and read the canned answers that make candidates sound really sincere).
What’s so different about the Topgrading interview is, from my experience, that it not only inspires candidates to be honest but forces them. My mother taught me that lying is really tough because you have to always remember what all of your previous lies were. As those lies pile up you really end up in a tough place.
That early lesson has proven itself to be very helpful. When I’ve worked with some clients directly and helped them conduct a 4 Hour Interview, I’ve picked up a few things that seem to apply across all industries:
- Executives can easily dupe you in a 30 minute interview
- They can often lie their way through a 1 or 2 hour interview because they’ve likely been on the hot seat before
- In hour 3 it’s fairly easy for the Interviewer to recognize if the Candidate is lying or has a track record of blaming others, not delivering on commitments, etc.
- By hour 4, the Candidate is “naked”. They’re either (a) being honest and feel more trusting of the non-judgemental atmosphere or (b) they’ve lost track of the fabrications they made up 2 hours prior and are wrapped up in a web of lies so large that they’re exhausted from trying to keep up with themselves.
With all this said, the Topgrading Interview is also the fairest and most objective interview I’ve ever conducted or observed. Its structure (Comprehensive, In-Depth, Structured or CIDS) is straightforward, no questions come out of left field (“Why are manhole covers round?”) and it gives the Candidate the chance to brag about themselves as equally as they reveal their mistakes or times of regret.
Wrap Up: If you’re being asked to take part in a Topgrading Interview, go in with a clear conscience and a willingness to show vulnerability. But above all: BE HONEST.
P.S. Just in case you have ever been asked the question “Why are manhole covers round?” and you want to be argumentative, you might use this picture below to build your case. — JD
I’m on vacation with my family in Boston this weekend (Go Jets!) and so I thought I’d go digging for some “old fashioned” blog posts that might still have a lot of validity in today’s market.
-The World Trade Center in NYC had its 2 towers
-We didn’t need to take out/off our laptops, belts, hats or shoes at the airport
-George Bush was sworn in as President
The year? 2001
What I found truly remarkable about this one, single post was how applicable it was back then (when no one had really heard of Topgrading®) and how it is even MORE applicable today. Enjoy!
Over the course of the past 20 years, I’ve been searching for — among other things — the single best question to ask in an interview. What I wanted to create was a One-Question Interview, a stand-alone query that would pierce through the veneer of generalizations, overcome typical candidate nervousness, minimize the impact of the candidate’s personality on the interviewer, eliminate the exaggeration which many candidates adopt as an interviewing ploy and actually determine if the candidate is competent and motivated to do the work required.
Through years of trial and error, I finally hit upon one question that did it all. If you were allowed to ask only one question during the course of the interview, this would be it: Please think about your most significant accomplishment. Now, could you tell me all about it? Imagine you’re the candidate and I’ve just asked you this question. What accomplishment would you select? Then imagine over the course of the next 5-20 minutes that I obtained the following information from you about this accomplishment:
- A complete description of the accomplishment
- The company you worked for and what it did
- The actual results achieved: numbers, facts, changes made, details, amounts
- When it took place
- How long it took
- The importance of this accomplishment to the company
- Your title and role
- Why you were chosen
- The 3-4 biggest challenges you faced and how you dealt with them
- A few examples of leadership and initiative
- Some of the major decisions made
- The environment and resources available
- How you made more resources available
- The technical skills needed to accomplish the objective
- The technical skills learned and how long it took to learn them
- The actual role you played
- The team involved and all of the reporting relationships
- Some of the biggest mistakes you made
- How you changed and grew as a person
- What you would do differently if you could do it again
- Aspects of the project you truly enjoyed
- Aspects you didn’t especially care about
- The budget available and your role in preparing it and managing it
- How you did on the project vs. the plan
- How you developed the plan
- How you motivated and influenced others, with specific examples to prove your claims
- How you dealt with conflict with specific examples
- Anything else you felt was important to the success of the project
Just about everything you need to know about a person’s competency can be extracted from this type of question. Most people would agree this type of question is very revealing. But the real issue is not the question: it’s the information that’s given in response that’s most important. Few people are able to give this type of information without additional prompting from the interviewer. This is what real interviewing is about: getting the answer to this very simple but very powerful question. Don’t spend time learning a lot of clever questions to ask during the interview: spend time learning to get the answer to just this one question. The key: understand the accomplishment, the process used to achieve the accomplishment, the environment in which the accomplishment took place and the candidate’s role.
Because of the generosity of Joe Navarro, a man who spent 25 years as a counterintelligence special agent, I’ve had the opportunity to share a lot of research and guidance about nonverbal and verbal communication with you over the last few weeks. To recap:
- Part 1: Not even those who are considered “experts” in interrogation can detect deception.
- Part 2: Guilty Knowledge manifests itself in a couple of significant ways including neck-rubbing and dis-possession
- Part 3: Indicators of Stress through nonverbal communication are the result of the Limbic Brain (or the ‘honest brain’) orchestrating behavior that relates to emotions. This is manifested most often through the feet and shoulders.
For the final installment in this Four Part Series my hope is that you’ll walk away with the most takeaway value of all. I believe that even if you haven’t read Joe’s book What Every Body is Saying you’ll be a better Interviewer and Leader after reading what he had to say.
[JDavis] Let’s break it down to basics – What are the Top 2 or 3 Nonverbal Displays that I should look for to make me a better Interviewer?
In all of the ones I’m going to share, the common theme is a sudden a change in the countenance of the person. Watch for signs that would indicate that they were comfortable and now they seem somewhat uncomfortable without any explanation. That indicates that something is bothering them (maybe your question or maybe another factor like gas from their lunch).
- I look for things like compressed lips, touching the neck, distancing behavior (pushing away) to indicate that there may be something wrong. When it comes to stress, nothing is more universal than disappearing lips. When someone presses their lips together it is as if the limbic brain is telling them to ‘shut down and don’t allow anything into the body’.
- This one is subtler: The person may “blade” their body away (called ventral denial). If they’ve been facing you and then they turn to not have their front or “belly side” pointed at you. Our ventral (front) side, where our eyes, mouth, chest, breasts, genitals, etc are located, is very sensitive to things that we like and dislike. It’s also the most vulnerable side of the body so the limbic brain has an inherent need to protect it from the things that hurt or bother us.
- They start to use objects (a woman could grab a purse and put it on her lap and use it as a barrier). A man might pick up a laptop and put it on their legs to be a barrier to protect themselves. When you witness people protecting their torsos in real time you can use it as an accurate indicator of discomfort on their part.
[JDavis] We’ve spent a lot of time talking about indicators of stress or guilt. Is there anything that a Candidate might do to show that they’re confident in answer?
The simplest guide I’ve seen that stretches across all cultures globally is the HANDS. Watch for whether they affirm statements PALM DOWN or PALM UP. Palm down with the fingers spread is positive and affirmative. PALM UP with fingers together they lack confidence (over 99% of the world’s population behaves this way).
[JDavis] What if someone unexpectedly moves their hands off the table and places them on their lap or where I can’t see them?
If someone withdraws their hands from the table it’s not enough of an indicator. That’s about as common as blinking their eyes. To simply attach one simple behavior like that just isn’t enough without looking at other body queues.
[JDavis] You’ve emphasize repeatedly in your books, your speeches and even this conversation that trying to read nonverbal behaviors can be more dangerous than it is beneficial to someone without formal training. Why is that?
When people first start looking into nonverbal communication it’s very similar to a young child learning how to read. It’s linear: left to right (i.e. Nose, Lips, Shoulders, Hands). The risk here is that many times the isolated behaviors aren’t significant enough without understanding what the whole body is doing.
At the start of my career I spent so much time looking at the face because we learned that even newborns are expressing themselves nonverbally through their facial expressions at only 3 days old. Today, I can see the whole body at once. That’s my parting shot to anyone who is going to use what they’ve learned from these posts: Relax, try to look at the whole body and don’t beat yourself up trying to look for every little queue.
Joe Navarro’s career as a counterintelligence special agent for the FBI made him one of the most uniquely qualified experts on nonverbal communication. When you spend 25 years interrogating terrorists and criminals you’re bound to pick up on a few things.
In Chapter 1 of this 4 Part blog series he shared that even the “experts” in law enforcement can’t accurately tell if someone is deceiving you or lying to you. The 2nd Chapter focused on the significance of dis-possession: how it’s NEVER a good thing when someone suddenly stops claiming ownership for something (my gun vs. the gun).
As my interview with Joe progressed we started talking about specific nonverbal behaviors and actions that someone might exhibit that would give you a huge clue that they’re uncomfortable and you should dig in further. It’s important to point out that this also ties in nicely with what Chris Mursau shared a few weeks ago about the significance of self-awareness and why a Candidate who answers a question about their weaknesses or career mistakes with, “You know…I can’t think of any.”
[JDavis] Earlier in our conversation you suggested that it’s fairly easy to pick up on INDICATORS OF STRESS. We discussed the weight that certain words can have (a knife or blade vs. a machete) and that if someone knows how to look for these key indicators they should dig in further. What’s an example of an INDICATOR OF STRESS?
In my experience, the most honest part of anyone’s body is their feet. If you watch someone who’s on the phone, even if you can’t hear what the dialogue is, their feet will tell the story. When a conversation is going well, their feet will defy gravity. Just like tapping your feet to the beat of a song you like, our feet and legs move up and down based on whether something is positive or not. Interestingly, gravity-defying behaviors rarely show up in people who are suffering from clinical depression. It’s because the body reflects precisely the emotional state of an individual – even if their mouth is saying something different.
[JDavis] Is there anything really specific that might happen to the feet and legs during an interview or a conversation that an amateur could look for to help them detect stress?
Yes. I call it “Distancing”. Most of the research that has been done on nonverbal displays of discomfort or guilt seemed to concentrate on the face. One thing I found was that people with guilty knowledge or discomfort (stress) distance themselves with their feet. If you bring up a subject they don’t like they’ll place their feet in the “starter’s position” because they literally want to run away and not be there.
[JDavis] I can see it being a bit awkward as an interviewer to constantly be looking under the table at someone’s feet when we’re supposed to be talking with them and acting like we’re paying attention. What are some examples of nonverbal behavior above the table that an interviewer might notice?
To answer this question it’s important to explain how the brain works first. In nonverbal communication, the limbic brain is where the action is because it’s the brain’s emotional center. From here, the signals that go out that orchestrate our behaviors as they relate to our emotions. It’s considered the “honest brain” because many of the behavioral reactions that are manifested through our feet, torso, arms, hands and faces occur without thought and, unlike our words, they are genuine.
With that said, we use our shoulders all the time. If you get asked, “do you care where we eat?”, a quick shrug would be representative of a low confidence display that shows that you don’t truly care.
In a more serious setting, if you ask someone, “Will this project be done by July?” and they answer by having ONE shoulder rise up to their ear, you can deduce that the person who is answering lacks confidence. Having one shoulder come up is a subconscious way of that person demonstrating that they have some internal doubt or internal dialogue that doesn’t support the verbal answer that they are giving you. The opposite is also true: when we answer something with confidence, our shoulders are down and squared.
In the final installment of this 4 Part Series I’ll share Joe’s Top nonverbal actions that represent a change in countenance of someone you’re interviewing.