February 2018

Hiring on Experience, Firing for Behaviour

We hire for qualifications and experience and we fire for behaviour.

It’s extraordinary how often we ignore this maxim.

Think of your friends for example: how did they become friends?

  • Did you get buddy buddy with Fred because he has a BCom and 10 years of experience?
  • Do you go book clubbing with Thandi because she’s an advanced Excel user and a SixSigma Black Belt?

Probably not. You make friends on the basis that you get on with each other. This doesn’t mean you have to be personality, interest and character clones. Not at all. I have friends who are extroverted, noisy and drink too much (Ed – yes, we know who you are!). I also have friends who are thoughtful, reserved, patient and independent.

So why do we ignore this at work?

It makes sense for recruiters and people managers to sift through CVs for qualifications, experience and technical competencies. Then, after shortlisting, to have a deep and long look at behaviour and track record. If you hire, develop, promote and retain people who don’t fit their jobs and/or their teams from a behavioural point of view, you’re looking for staff turnover, frustrated teams and lower performance.

The good news, of course, is that we have the tools to measure behaviour in a simple and easy to understand format at R4,750 per person. How does that stack up against the costs of excessive turnover, dysfunctional teams, conflict and sub-optimal performance?

Let me know if you’d like to find out more. I work remotely via Zoom anywhere in the English speaking world. Just yesterday I worked in Johannesburg with a client in Cape Town on Zoom to define the performance and capability requirements for a new role in the business.

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How To Make The Best Use Of Society’s Bull Terriers

It’s possible that on Tuesday when I wrote about losing customers because you leave them in the hands of assertive, formal introverts, some of you (assertive, formal introverts) may have been offended!

So, before I’m lynched, let’s qualify my views.

Of course, assertive, formal introverts can provide service. But we’re not talking about occasionally. We’re talking about every day!

Generally, that’s tiring for assertive, formal introverts.

But here’s the thing: without assertive, formal introverts, the agreeable, informal extroverts would have nothing to do.

That’s because most products and services are invented, designed, tested, processed, produced and taken to market by … you guessed it, assertive, formal introverts.


Because assertive, formal introverts believe in themselves, focus their creativity and attention on the problem to hand which results in the invention to solve the problem. They don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. They focus for longer, they solve problems and don’t miss important details.

But once the invention is born, then the agreeable, informal extroverts get their turn in the sun: to sell, to service, to build relationships, to handle the PR, deal with difficult customers and socialise past midnight without looking at their watches.

It’s the reason so many successful businesses start with 2 people who had a dream. The dream is fulfilled through partnership. Think Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard (HP), Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google), Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak (Apple), Evan Williams & Biz Stone (Twitter), Bill Gates & Paul Allen (Microsoft). The list goes on: Ben & Jerry’s, eBay, Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Yahoo.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to have a partner to be successful. But complementary talents can multiply effort by 3, not 2. And having the right people in the right jobs elsewhere in the start-up multiplies the chances of success.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure all of the above. Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

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Do You Chase Customers Away Without Realising It?

I view life through the prism of behaviour and almost every day presents another chance to witness the results of the wrong person in the right job. It’s so amazingly common.

We enjoyed a cooking course a while back. We prepared the food and then enjoyed the fruit of our labour on the stoep outside with a few glasses of wine.

One of our party hadn’t booked on time but decided to come along for the ride anyway. So when we arrived, we started with drinks and snacks. Our table could comfortably seat 10 but we were only 9. Dave joined the table and, as informal extroverts often do, quickly found himself in conversation with a few people (He was careful not to eat the snacks or drink the sparkling wine!)

But our teacher for the day found out there was an ‘extra’ at our table. In true formal, rule-bound introvert style, he suggested Dave leave and go down the road to a café.

Technically, he was right. Dave was an unpaid ‘extra’ hanging around. But given the venue was not over-full, how much easier to say: “If your table doesn’t mind, would you like to join us, it’s R500 for the day?” Dave would happily have paid and, knowing Dave, he would have sung the praises of the school across Joburg! That’s what informal extroverts do.

This stuff is really simple, but if you leave your customers in the hands of (what looked like) assertive, by-the-book, introverts, you’re going to find yourselves with customers who say “Whatever!” and don’t come back.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure these things quickly.

Let me know if you’d like to find out more. For just R4,950 (USD495)* per applicant or potential promotee (Ed – no such word!), you can save hundreds of thousands in wasted salaries, training, institutional costs, management time and lost business.

* Prices subject to change and currency fluctuations. Correct as at 19 Feb 2018.
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Should You Employ Confident People?

It’s appropriate today to talk about ego.

Our President, finally, unwillingly, painfully, resigned last night, still unashamedly suggesting that he has done nothing wrong.

What drives our politicians and leaders, in general, is twofold:

  • an unblinking belief in self and
  • a lack of concern for rules, detail, structure, process and risk

These 2 traits are not bad per se.

We want our leaders to be strong in the face of adversity, to make brave, risky decisions that successfully propel our organisations or countries in new and exciting directions.

It was this bravery that led Cyril Ramaphosa to establish the National Union of Mine-workers (NUM) in 1982 and gain bargaining recognition from the Chamber of Mines in 1983. No mean feat in 1983! His confidence in himself and his preparedness to challenge the rules of those in power were exactly the traits needed to get the job done. Regardless of the risk to himself.

But in the case of our ex-president, the Guptas and the leaders of so many reputable companies that have been named in multiple scandals recently, another ingredient is key:


When we recruit people who are confident, assertive, driven, impatient, fearless, prepared to challenge existing rules/norms AND they lack integrity, our organisations (countries) are at risk.

If you plan to recruit, transfer or promote people into key roles in your organisation, a thorough vetting of their credentials is key, especially when they are ego-centred and have less regard for risk, structure, rules and policies.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure these traits and understand them before we recruit, promote and transfer the wrong people into the right jobs.

Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

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Who Do You Hire To Serve Your Customers?

We celebrated our friends’ daughter’s 19th birthday last night at a local restaurant. Yet again the service was ordinary and slow. The traditional birthday song and gift arrived after the bill had been paid which itself took 30 mins to arrive.

A while back, we popped into an Italian restaurant in Kyalami, close to where we live and the waiter arrived, slapped the menus onto the table, simultaneously barking “What do you want?”. He over-estimated our extrasensory perception and speed as the slapping and question followed each other in quick succession.

Last Friday, we went to an Asian restaurant in Montecasino. We ordered from a disinterested waitress, the food arrived, we enjoyed the meal (nothing else) and asked for the bill. Then, unbelievably! The waitress started to pull the tablecloth and motioned for us to lift our arms up so that she could remove it – they were closing!

It seems that many restaurant managers and their staff miss the entire point of a restaurant. Yes, the food must be good but I can cook good food at home (well, think I can!). The whole point of a restaurant is to enjoy good food, great ambience, excellent service, entertaining company and … no dishwashing!
But restaurant owners mostly put the wrong people into the right jobs. People who think that their job is to serve food and clear dishes miss the essential point of Serving the Customer. Serving the Customer implies being:

  • other centred, not ego centred.
  • people positive: enjoying building relationships with people
  • altruistic: looking to give to others without an expectation of anything in return
  • able to handle conflict and frustration: when things go wrong or customers are difficult, people with this talent handle and resolve the resulting conflict without losing the plot
  • patient: restaurant work is repetitive. You need patience and to be happy with routine work to thrive house worker/manager
  • attentive to detail/respectful: remembering a customer’s name and that they love a whisky to start means you’re one up on people who can’t do that

The good news, of course, is that we can easily measure all of these things.

Contact me if you’d like to find out more about the people who serve your customers. It’s a killer advantage over competitors when you get it right.



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What Are Your REAL Recruiting Costs?

When you make a recruitment mistake, what does it cost you? Well, let’s not guess. Google it. Take a look at this calculator.

I put in salaries at R400k, suggested 3 people had left and the turnover cost was calculated at R978k.

Can we afford to blow nearly R1m on turnover?

One hopes not unless you work for government and R1m is smallanyana1 change.

The simple way to prevent a chunk of your staff turnover cost is to spend more time at the front end.

I find that my clients are generally in a rush to fill a position. In the rush, we overlook little things that indicate bigger problems. By slowing down at the recruitment step, we save a lot of money, stress and time down the road.

I don’t offer traditional recruitment services but I do provide my clients with a simple 5-step method to reduce the chances of a bad hire. If ever you have candidates and you want to make sure that you have the right people, let me know and I’ll walk you through my process. It can be done entirely online for anyone anywhere in the world.

1 An expression used by a South African politician to suggest we all have small skeletons in our cupboards. In the case of our politicians, some big ones too!

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