It is widely understood that there is no greater factor in determining an organization’s success than that of having a talented and motivated team of employees. The following article highlights key factors in selecting employees and the importance of placing them in positions where they are best able to help the organization achieve its goals and objectives.

Selecting the Right People

Experience vs. Attitude and Ability to Learn

In selecting people to join your company, it is important to consider their technical expertise and relevant experience. However, it is equally important to understand a prospective employee’s ability to learn, along with their attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic. For instance, over the years, I have repeatedly found that an intelligent person can be taught almost any technical skill, but companies can do little to change their overall attitude or work ethic. Given the choice, I would much rather have an employee with a positive attitude who can be taught a specific skill rather than a highly experienced individual who was negative or unenthusiastic in regard to their assigned endeavor. Negative attitudes and cynicism can be highly detrimental to the workforce; whereas, enthusiasm can be equally contagious in a positive way. I would always choose the latter.

Position People Where They Can Succeed

Another key point in regards to fielding the right team for success is to ensure that management plays their employees in the right positions. Over the years, I have seen many companies take employees who had exceptional technical skills and place them in management positions that required strong organizational and interpersonal skills, which they did not have. As a result, the company lost a strong technical contributor and inherited a poor manager that was largely responsible for increasing employee turnover and served as a catalyst for union organizing efforts.

Here’s another way to look at this, Jerry Rice was a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers. Had he been assigned to the position of defensive nose tackle, he would have negatively impacted his team’s performance and been released due to his poor performance. Alternatively, by carefully assessing his skills and reassigning him as a wide receiver, the team’s performance improved, as did his personal success.

Companies must continually assess the performance and skills of their personnel, just as a football coach does for his team. Just as players may lose speed and agility, the skills or attributes of employees also change over time. Failure to recognize this not only jeopardizes the team but positions the individual for failure. It is so much better to reassign employees to positions and tasks where they can excel, rather than force them into a position where they muddle through in a mediocre fashion.

Why Companies Fail to Make Changes

I have often wondered why companies are so reluctant to make personnel changes that can be beneficial for both the organization and the individual. Perhaps, the greatest impediment is driven by simple inertia or the acceptance of current status quo, or perhaps, it’s simply a natural human tendency to avoid conflict. Either way, it translates to “we will be great someday but not right now.” In addition to jeopardizing the company and the individual, failure to make needed changes in personnel often results in increased employee turnover, with companies losing their best people as they see little or no opportunity for merit-based advancement.

Summary

As stated earlier, there is no greater factor in determining an organization’s success than having a talented and motivated team of employees. While experience and expertise should be considered to be part of the hiring process, it is equally important to understand a prospective hire’s ability to learn, along with their attitude and work ethic. For current employees, companies should regularly assess the talents and skills of their team and assign them to positions where they can best contribute to the organization’s success, even if this means reassigning them from positions that they have traditionally held. Failure to do so may jeopardize both the company and the individual, and also contribute to increased employee turnover.

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