“Recruit to develop” rather than “hire to change”

In our efforts to lead and develop others in our personal lives, this may or may not apply depending on our interests.  For example, there are many young folks that are never given a real chance in the world because they have no one to teach them “how to be”.  We may (and should) offer some of our time to help, but it is a personal preference.

In the workplace, finding the best people is, and always will be a challenge, but it is also the secret to long term growth and profitability.  A growing organization is typically classified as such because of the success of a tightly knitted group of individuals that are all producing at max capacity and loving what they do.  These folks like growth and to continue growing we must find other like-minded individuals to add to the team.  Sometimes organizations lose sight of this in their growth efforts, especially if the growth is fast paced.  Just remember that lack patience and bringing on the wrong folks can be very costly.

It is near impossible to change people unless they have the desire to grow. Without this our leadership efforts will lead to frustration and turnover.  Identifying this characteristic starts with the hiring process; during the next interview, be sure to gear some questions around their desire to grow, and openness to change.  One good question is to ask them if they read, and if so, what do they read?  This can be quite telling about a person; it shows that they are always trying to expand and grow themselves.  Another good question is to ask them to give you a timeline of the things they have done over the course of their life to grow, similar to drawing a line chart that slopes upward with all of their accomplishments.

Once a new person is on board, monitor and observe their behavior early on to make sure they emulate the desire to grow.  Some things to look for are:

  • Desire for feedback – they play an active role in asking what they can do better.
  • Work ethic – are they punching the clock, or are they doing what it takes?  Do they have to be told to go home because you fear they will “burn-out”, or are you having to kick them in the butt just to get 40 hours in?
  • Are they smart? – This is hard to confirm prior to hiring, but it is easy to identify once they are on board.  If they do not “get it”, others in the organization will become frustrated with them and they will not have much early success.  Make sure to attend presentations and meetings where the person is given the lead.  A smart person who gets it (or may not even fully understand yet) will be able to handle themselves with poise and confidence.
  • Is it apparent that they view the job as an “opportunity”, or is it just a job to them?  Those who truly view it as an opportunity will be putting everything they have into the position.
  • Can they focus? – Many individuals lack the ability to focus.  It may be an issue related to Attention Deficit Disorder, or it may be because they have things going on in their personal lives that are capturing the majority of their attention.  Lack of focus should be identified and addressed immediately.  If it is an attention disorder, encourage them to get medication.  If personal issues are the problem, let them know that you have noticed their lack of focus and while you are there for them, these things must be compartmentalized because it is affecting their performance.  Without focus, time spent developing the individual will be wasted because not much of what we teach them will get applied.

What we are really looking for is if we still believe in the person after a week, a month, a quarter, etc.  This is the gut feeling that comes from observing them early, making sure they know how things “work around here” and seeing how they react to the opportunity that has been given.  Focus on finding the right people from the beginning, and make sure early on that they truly desire to grow, and that they continue to emulate the same ideal candidate that they presented themselves as during the interview process.  If confidence in the individual is lost we must ask ourselves why, and if it is for good reason don’t delay in making a change.

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