Recruiting & Promotion: Character and behavior vs. experience and resume

Bruce Lee probably said it best,

“I can teach you skills, but I cannot teach you your own attitude”.

Ideally, you would like to have both in a team member, but the reality is that it’s easier to develop a person’s skill than their will. Will is part of that set of an individual’s intrinsic habits, attitudes and motivations that in business are commonly referred to as, intangibles. These character traits develop from inside a person over time and manifest themselves outward. That’s why considerations like, motivation and ethics are so difficult to coach and so much has been written about them. Motivation can be mildly influenced, if you already know what that person’s internal motivation mechanisms but most people see through ‘techniques’ and ‘puppeteering’. Simply bending everyone to your will or that of your organization with management tools and tactics is unrealistic.

You can also regulate until doomsday, but if you have a dishonest person on your team they will find a way around any regulation. The examples in business today are unfortunately, all too common.  Integrity, like other intangible character traits, is a choice a person makes from within based on their past experiences and shaped attitudes.

  • Coaching character is much more difficult than skill
  • Coaching skill is extremely difficult when the will is lacking
  • Coaching will on the one team member lacking, robs valuable time spent on the team as a whole

Would you rather spend your time fine tuning the entire team’s skill sets? Or chasing a so-called experienced employee down to complete tasks, be on time, stay motivated or worse…..resolving potential honesty issues? What’s the long-term cost of all that time wasted and poor behaviors? To you? Your team’s morale? Your team’s performance? The time and cost of pulling weeds from your garden, so to speak, is enormous compared to some preventative maintenance to help keep the weeds out in the first place.

Again, that is not to dismiss the importance of skills, experience and a performance track record in recruitment or promotional decisions. It is to simply stress the need to look diligently at what is behind the numbers. Having the skill to dig into character and intangibles when you recruit or promote someone can make or break your team. How to do that? That’s a formula for another story.

To summarize, here is a brief video from Franklin Covey to demonstrate how just one character consideration, integrity, can impact a professional team.

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