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February 21, 2017

Hire Tough – Manage Easy

– by David Mantica and John M. O’Connor

How do you increase your recruitment success rate? Let’s dig deeper into the strategy of hiring and introduce a model, currently in use, which has, over a period of three years, significantly increased recruitment success rate in terms of productivity and attrition. The model is SIC/ME. It is based on evaluating candidates on what is coachable and trainable and what isn’t. So, what is SIC/ME? SIC portion stands for Socialization, Intelligence, and Character. In this model, SIC attributes are neither coachable nor trainable. It comes with the package. The ME portion stands for Maturity and Experience. In this model, ME attributes are both coachable and trainable.

Why is this important to you? It may save your small or growing business thousands of dollars on recruitment, outplacement, training and development.

Let’s build this SIC/ME model out a bit more. Going back to physics terms, kinetic energy is good but potential energy? Even better. Following the SIC portion of the hiring model, look for the candidate with the highest potential energy possible. Hiring for SIC means you look for the following:

Socialization Power: someone who mixes easily and smoothly with your staff. There will be no “stick out like a sore thumb” situation. People like working with people they like. People also like to buy from people they like. Socialization is critical. You will know quickly the pain of hiring someone who doesn’t say hi to everyone in the morning if your office is full of chipper morning people. Sometimes hiring for positivity and enthusiasm matters more. In our customer service department alone I have seen our clients react positively, place more orders, and work with us more collaboratively based on our upbeat nature.

Baseline of Focused Intellect and Emotional Intelligence: Let’s use a four-year degree as an example. Completion by a candidate shows two things; one, a person can achieve a goal and secondly, is trainable. So, a trainable person, in most cases, is intelligent. As a company you want an intelligent and trainable person. Someone who can learn fast and “get” what your company is about faster. Intelligence is the fuel that grows and drives experience. Emotional intelligence demonstrates how they will go about obtaining success and considering others.

Character Still Counts: The very foundation of a person involves good character. You can be good at something, be successful, and decide to have an affair with a fellow employee outside of your marriage. You may take shortcuts to success by lying. You cross other lines that may not be illegal but are out of good character. I know we need to forgive, live more tolerantly, but good character draws the lines deeper than general moral code. In my top performers I expect more. We have all seen these situations. At first the flaws are hidden or pushed aside, but sooner or later it is fully exposed in some type of train wreck incident. Experienced hires without character provide short-term gains with lots of long-term pain.

For most companies, the hiring model focuses around maturity and experience within an industry. Basically, the logic says a candidate who comes in with experience and contacts will provide very fast results especially in the area of sales, marketing, and business development. Using physics terms, this can be called kinetic energy. The reality though is that this model can quickly blow up in your face. But why?

Every company has a culture; some even call it a corporate mythology. Strong companies, as shown in the book Built to Last, possess cultures that live for decades and are the driving force behind success. Hiring for just maturity and experience takes culture fit completely out of the equation. Let’s use a quick example. Bob may be the best sales person at Company X and their cultural is similar to the culture of the Greek city-state Sparta, competitive and focused on results. Company Y basically does the same thing as Company X and wants Bob to work for them. They hire Bob. Problem is Bob walks into a culture similar to the Greek city-state of Athens, relaxed and focused on well-being. Within four months Bob RUNS out of Company Y fully convinced they are weak and foolish. Cultural fit trumps experience all the time.

What is the constant with regard to the SIC portion of the model? The SIC attributes come with the package, the person. They are neither coachable nor trainable. If you hire someone and you know they lack socialization skills or intelligence or have character flaws it is impossible, YES IMPOSSIBLE to improve or change them. No matter how great or talented you or your company may be, you can’t change the basic foundation of a person. Going back to physics terms a person with strong SIC attributes have HUGE potential energy and given time and training will exceed the limited Kinetic energy an experienced yet SIC flawed person brings.

The ME portion of the model stands for maturity and experience and the main point of this post has been hiring just for ME can be problematic. But ME is in the model because you certainly want to cover these to attributes as well, if possible. The key though is that ME should be secondary in your search not primary. The reality is ME can be trained and coached. Maturity is a process not an event. It grows over time, same with experience. The perfect situation? Hire someone who covers the full SIC/ME model but for some positions and during some times that is not possible. When it isn’t possible the key to long term success is pushing aside your short term/instant gratification inclination and move your hiring to finding the best SIC person for your business.

If you start gravitating to the SIC model your team must change its interview process to include more detailed questions the can help bring out a person’s character and solid/consistent reference checks. You want to be sure your culture has been defined so you can match a person’s socialization skills up with your cultural environment. Type A companies most likely want Type A people. If you hire socialization skills that are different than your environment to drive some creativity and diversity of ideas, that may work but you need to be prepared for disagreement and storms before the team can gel and work together. Finally you may want to consider a test week or a short term internship before full time employment to “watch” the prospect in your environment and gauge their intelligence and work habits.

In the end, hiring is the single most important process in internal function of a company and the one that NEVER is given enough time or attention. We believe this simple model will help you reduce attrition and outplacement rates and increase the productivity of your company/division or department over the long term.

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