Leading printing executives into the future
Don't Hire People Just Like You!
By Jerry Scher
Published: September 7, 2012
Implementing a successful recruiting, hiring and promoting strategy requires three primary
activities; determining eligibility, assessing suitability and effective interviewing. In our last
article we defined each of these activities and explained why they were vital. And before I
describe what I believe to be the critical suitability traits and behavioral competencies to consider
for the next generation, business developer, I would like you to seriously consider the financial
impact of making the "right" hiring or promotion decisions.
What's the Performance Differential?
Have you ever analyzed the financial difference or performance differential between an average
performing sales person and your top performing professional? Whether you focus on total
revenue generation or on actual gross margin dollars this is an exercise worth engaging in.
Studies have shown that companies measuring these differences have seen significant variances;
in some cases 50%-100% or more in revenue or profit from the same position, executed by a
highly talented employee. Does that get your attention? It should.
"Studies have shown that companies can experience 50%-100% or more in revenue or profit
from the same position with better talent."
Assessing Strengths and Challenges
The process of assessing employees or candidates is ongoing but all too often a highly subjective
process conducted by managers that have not clearly defined what success should look like.
They tend to choose people to work for them who are just like them (or they think so). They
observe others through their personal bias without carefully considering the success factors. In
fact, in the sales function the tendency is to look only at past performance metrics rather than
considering the behavioral competencies and activities that will result in achieving success.
When it comes to eligibility factors one should consider all of the hard skills, past experience in
similar or related jobs, appropriate educational levels and industry certifications and knowledge.
Determining the levels of each of these categories and aligning them to the specific job
requirements is crucial. Once these factors have been identified and ranked or prioritized,
developing a scoring mechanism so that you can compare one candidate to another, objectively,
will be a valuable tool for determining if a candidate "Can Do the Job".
Suitability factors, which in many cases (for the sales role in particular), represent 50% of the job
success factors, are more difficult to assess. Of course once you've worked with someone you
can usually predict how they will behave in the future; based of course on your personal
experience. And in too many cases we hire people because they appear to be eligible for a job
but we ultimately fire them (or keep them around too long) because they end up being unsuitable
for the position. I can't tell you how many managers have shared their war stories about mediocre
employees they thought would be a great fit. Too frequently it makes you not want to hire or
"We hire people because of their eligibility but ultimately fire them because they lack suitability
for the position."
Now we typically use the interview process as our means of determining whether or not a
candidate is suitable (a good fit) but once again unless the interviewer is highly skilled, which
most times they're not, this doesn't work very well. Seriously, how would you rate your ability to
interview effectively? During the interviews you conduct, who does most of the talking, you or
the candidate? And are those interviews usually seen as an interruption in your day or are they a
well thought out, planned, team activity? Just think about how effective this process is to
determine and predict if a candidate is actually suitable to become one of those sales superstars.
There has got to be a better way to win this talent war; and yes there is!
Based on years of highly validated behavioral research, conducted with companies worldwide,
we have not only learned what behavioral factors will impact job success (in thousands of
different jobs), but also to what degree of intensity these factors should exist. The research
considers top performers as well as average and low performers thereby differentiating the traits
of the top performer and poor performers for a specific job.
Since not all sales positions are the same, the behavioral competences and traits described can
and should be customized and prioritized to meet the specific job requirements. However, as the
role of the sales person continues to evolve from a transactional model to a consultative resource
there are a wide range of suitability factors that should be considered.
Interpersonal traits should be high on the list and they include diplomacy, frankness, helpfulness,
certainty and open-reflectiveness. While great sales people score high on taking initiative, wants
challenge and enjoy educating others, they should be willing to collaborate and be a team player
while at the same time be willing to make decisions and take responsibility for their decisions.
"As the role of sale professional changes within the graphic communications industry, we can no
longer just search for folks that have a "book of business."
As multi-level selling becomes more important, the ability to build relationships, being wellorganized, a good planner and certainly a strategic acumen are essential. We have also
recognized that being a persistent innovator is quite important as one attempts to uncover the
client's pain and creatively offer multiple solutions while challenging the status quo. The ability
to engage a client or prospect in problem solving dialogue and assertively influencing their
decisions is extremely important. And of course a moderate level of healthy self-esteem and
desire for self-improvement rounds off our list of behavioral competencies.
Create a System
Now based on the list of traits can you see how difficult it would be to accurately assess one's
suitability with only a subjective interview? As the role of the sales professional changes within
the graphic communications industry we can no longer just search for folks that have a "book of
business". Companies require true business developers that possess a more sophisticated range of
behaviors and skills. Our structured approach to carefully defining the job, determining the
eligibility requirements, considering all of the suitability factors to assess and learning how to
interview effectively should enable you to recruit and hire the talent you are looking for.
If you would like more information about assessing eligibility and suitability please contact Jerry
Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-931-9291. You can also get information about the
Harrison Assessment at http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html
Stay tuned to this continual series – as we focus on how to design an effective assessment tool.
Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's
primary goal - make those around him more successful.