Summer 2008
Stop Hiring the Wrong People!

A young retail entrepreneur who currently owns three businesses and has enough ideas to start several more recently took a comprehensive exam designed to reveal his natural talents and skills. The results revealed he had exceptional motivational skills and one of the highest empathetic-outlook scores on the test’s scale.

However, as with many up-and-coming entrepreneurs, the exam also revealed he was great at getting projects started but not so great when it came to follow-through. Much to his credit he realized that in order to fulfill his true potential, he needed to build a stronger support team that could pick up the ball where he was weakest: execution. He needed to recruit and retain people who would enjoy implementing and nurturing his ideas.

The question is: How do business owners find employees who really know how to execute? Here’s how.

Know the job

First, it’s crucial to ask yourself for each job you’re looking to fill: What are the primary activities of this job? Interaction with lots of people? Versatility? Working in a competitive environment (whether competing against a sales goal or winning against competitors)? What are the activities that make up the majority of time spent in this job when it’s done right?

Second, ask yourself: What are the primary intrinsic rewards of this job? Of course, everyone wants a paycheck, but what else does this job reward? Helping other people? Learning new things? Creating a certain level of sales, or some other measureable result? Every job rewards something. What does this job reward most?

Third, ask yourself: What common sense or good “business judgment” does this job enlist? Does it depend on someone who focuses on practical results, organizing things, seeing how things fit together or compare with each other? Is it asking for someone who thinks deeply and spends most of his or her time managing concepts, ideas, or strategies? Or, is this job asking for someone who is an exceptional judge of other people and who can influence, lead, understand, and develop others?‚Ä®

Know the person

Using the same road map for understanding the job, you should be able to develop a profile of the ideal person for the job. Focus on the three aspects you outlined for the job: activities, motivation and business judgment.

What activities does the ideal candidate enjoy most? Interaction with others or working independently? Completing routine tasks or managing lots of irons in the fire? On-the-fly troubleshooting or predictable project-management? How do these preferred activities relate to the skill sets needed for the job identified earlier in the process?

Next, examine what motivates the ideal candidate. Creating wealth? Helping others? Learning new things? Being in charge and controlling the destiny of people and projects?

What common sense or business judgment does the candidate bring to the job? Using your best judgment, determine if the candidate is thinker or planner. Is s/he quick at comparing several practical alternatives, understanding how “big picture” business practices work and adjusting to create desired results? Or does the candidate need to show more skills in terms of effectively understanding the needs of others? The key is to identify skills, so you don’t end up hiring someone who has to check their natural talents and motivations at the door, when you need those talents and motivations working for you every day.

Manage for success

Once you have a crystal-clear picture of the activities, rewards and evaluative judgment of the job and understand the attributes of the ideal candidate, you can develop a unique new approach to managing for success. You can manage to win, instead of doing what most supervisors do: Manage not to lose. The two mindsets are worlds apart and bring vastly different results.

By leveraging those parts of the job that will come naturally to the candidate, and learning how to navigate through the rough spots where the candidate’s skills might not necessarily shine, you’ll be managing for success.

Effective hiring

You don’t have to be one of the retail entrepreneurs who feel like they’re hiring by playing roulette, reading countless resumes, spending hours interviewing candidates, all the time searching for a clue that will tell you the person is capable of doing what you need done. Effective hiring is about developing a deep understanding of what the candidate is most likely to succeed wildly in doing.

If you take your time on hashing out the details before you hire, you’ll end up with what every business owner wants: a relationship with an employee where all you have to say is, “Go do your thing!”-and high performance is the result.

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