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The Magic Formula of People Selection

9 May, 2011 By: Rich Sissen, Sissen & Associates imageSource

The Magic Formula of People Selection

Have you ever used the triangular business relationship to best illustrate
the elements that create a successful selection situation for a new hire?  For
example, if you are a manager attempting to make a people decision, there are
three critical elements you have to ascertain in order to determine whether or
not to make a job offer.  If you can tell prior to hire, the “can-do” vs. the
“will-do” or the “team fit” of a candidate, you’ll dramatically increase your
chances for success.

A good selection system is going to show you how to get the answers to three
critical questions.  What I call the ECS System of Success by Selection does, is
show you how the lack of any of those elements will limit your ability to make
successful decisions. Let’s define a successful selection decision.  First,
successful selection means that the hiring manager selects a candidate who can
perform the job at a minimum level of acceptable production and stay with the
company at least through their second year. Anything less than the above means
the hiring manager is not achieving success as selector of people. Please
understand that the three elements of “can-do,” “will-do” and “team fit” are
synergistic. A synergism is when the combination of two or more elements results
in something greater than the sum of those elements.

In a good system you need to illustrate how the lack of or limiting of any
key elements will reduce your ratio of success. For instance, if you have a
candidate who has the “can-do” and the “team fit” but a very low degree of
“will-do” ability, the candidate’s success opportunity will by limited by the
lack of “will-do” and not by the amount of the other two elements they bring to
the job.  By the same token, another person can have the right amount of
“will-do” and “team fit” and lack the basic “can-do” ability. Again, it is the
lack of that element that limits the degree of success a candidate will achieve
in the job. It is the significant or the correct amount of the three success
keys that allows people to achieve success. You need to train managers to
understand these equations in order to recognize how the candidate will relate
with your job environment. 

Behaviors Must Fit the Job

About 25 percent of people within the general population would be characterized
as having a strong interest in other people, a high degree of sociability, and a
desire to be influential in dealing with other individuals. However, to say that
you merely select someone because of their strong sociability, say for a sales
job, doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get the kind of person you want
to handle your sales.  As a manager or owner you realize that a typical sales
job has a high element of conflict and rejection along with a high degree of
self motivation. If you were to select someone who had high sociability yet the
behavior pattern of a country club manager, they would not function well at all
in a situation that required a person to handle conflict, rejection, and staying
motivated to achieve success.  The fact is - if you are interested in hiring
salespeople, you are surrounded by a general population in which only one to two
percent will actually fit your job situation from the viewpoint of having the
correct behavior for the job position offered.

Your percentages are ever further reduced when you consider that of the one
to two percent of the people who have the correct behavior pattern, many will
not have the “will-do” – the desire to get involved and do what is needed in the
job, regardless they have some key components. Add to the above the fact that
you have a very distinct job environment! Your company culture has certain
ethics and beliefs that are constantly reinforced or rejected. Some of the
people who have the “can-do” as it relates to the correct behavior pattern will
not have the value system personality to fit comfortably within your company.
Look at the hiring picture from a holistic viewpoint to realize just how
difficult it can be to consistently make good hiring decisions.  Let’s face
it…there is no return on the capital investment in people unless you get people
to stay for the second year. A realist would say, “Some people succeed because
they are destined to. Most people succeed because they are determined to.”

The Formula of Selling

The triangular relationship as it applies to selling is one of attitude,
skill, and knowledge. The shortest side of this relationship controls the
overall effectiveness of the individual in the job.  Within that thought is the
essence of the fault that lies with product knowledge training. Far too many
companies in our channel, both technology-oriented as well as service oriented,
think that knowing more about the product or service is going to increase the
effectiveness of their sales rep’s presentation. The fact that product knowledge
gets stronger does not necessarily increase the seller’s ability to make a
presentation. You want to train effectively to get to the point where the sales
rep is knowledgeable on all things including the product; that he is part of the
efficiency and value-add, as is the company, as well as the product itself.
Often, the classical sales behavior is not one that is highly detail oriented.
When companies don’t enhance the typical skill set of sales reps further and
periodically as needed, nothing spectacular will likely result.

Attitude Is Everything

The greatest of our human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude
in any set of circumstances. When a person’s attitude has been reduced or has
become negative, there is little to help that individual – unless they want to
be helped.  You’ve got to affect a good attitude, you have to be willing to
create an environment or program that says attitude is everything, especially in
sales.  Top performers know that the glass is half-full, not half-empty. It all
depends on how one sees it.  Top performers seek to be on fire with ideas, game
plans, reinventing the wheel.  They choose to believe before others believe. If
they believe that they can’t do something then the company won’t prosper. It
doesn’t make any difference what things really are, if your salespeople think
things are positive or they can turn things around, they will likely succeed in
most instances. The attitudes they have are a positive reflection of what “might
happen” and they are going to positively affect their customers, clients,
prospects, associates, and managers with their enthusiasm.

You can train people to transmit a positive attitude even if they inwardly do
not possess it; having them adopt it and using it as a sales tactic. Basically,
even when our attitude isn’t “real,” it can convey intent.

Training for Quality

The buzz word tossed around by most management is “quality.” Let’s consider
quality training.  Quality is in the eye of the beholder. When you satisfy an
individual’s needs regarding attitude, skill, knowledge, service, product,
company, market, etc., you are structuring the quality of product, services, and
even a training situation. The quality situation is enhanced by what others
think of it.  It is important what you, the manager think about a particular
situation, it is also important what I think about a situation, but what is
really important is what they, the client, thinks about that situation…the
product, the training program, how it relates to that customer. It is then
“quality or it not” based upon how they think of it. When they become “on fire”
with the idea of good quality in what they are doing or getting, they relate it
to everyone else. The result usually drives processes and profits up which then
translates to a quality deal.

Rich K. Sissen is president of his management consulting and HR training
firm, with more than 20+ years experience in the office channel. For more
information email him at


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