In Hiring for Attitude (McGraw-Hill 2012), Mark Murphy discusses qualitative performance as a hiring, rather than management, issue. He argues that compatibility with company values is what determines and drives employee performance, and that this compatibility can be recognized during the recruitment and hiring process to select for high performers.
Murphy begins by setting out the results of a study: In their first 18 months on the job, 46% of 20,000 new hires failed. He defines failure as termination, poor performance reviews, or write-ups. A 46% failure rate suggests that there must be some other factor involved than the ability to do the job. After all, were 9,200 people really hired despite lacking adequate skills for their position? Probably not, right?
So what was the problem, then? The performance of employees is judged against the standards and values of the hiring company. If an employee’s personal idea of high performance does not match the standard against which they are being evaluated, regardless of their skill level, they will not be reviewed positively. Hiring for Attitude takes readers through the process of identifying those standards, recruiting and hiring to fit them, and keeping them visible to ensure high performance.
Mark Murphy guides readers through the interviewing process with the end goal of a high performer in mind (a person with both high skill value and a good attitude). He warns against some very common (but ineffective) behavioral questions, and their lack of ability to meaningfully differentiate candidates. But, not to leave us hanging, he suggests formulas for questions that really will determine an interviewee’s fit with a company. He provides plenty of example answers and what information can be gleaned from them about the attitude of the respondent. And although he does provide his personal opinions on these answers, he offers statistics on specific language choices of high and low performers to reinforce those opinions.
Beyond just the interviewing part of the hiring process, Murphy gives advice on tailoring your recruiting efforts to attract high performers that match the culture and values of your company. He points out that the better your set of potential hires, the higher your standards will be for your final decision. But, Murphy stresses, the work of the company doesn’t stop with that decision. He highlights the importance of company values’ visibility – clearly communicating standards and measures to employees – to ensure a strong company culture that encourages high performance and a unified team.
Overall, Hiring for Attitude is a guide for establishing and preserving the culture of your company to create a strong, high performing team. While you, individually, may play only a small part in this kind of decision-making for your team, it is extremely helpful to understand this critical and considerate process in order to actively participate in the function and growth of your organization.