BY CAROL QUINN
There are two schools of thought. The first and more traditional one is that during the job interview candidates who are unmotivated are screened out and only highly motivated employees are extended job offers. At least, they seemed highly motivated during the job interview. Once on board, many of these 'good hires' seem to go bad. Their motivation flails, they become disillusioned with the job and/or employer, and their job performance is less-than-impressive. The second, and newer school of thought, is based on the concept that employers are not creating under performers, but rather, they are hiring people who are not highly motivated. Of course these new hires were impressive during the job interview otherwise they never would have been extended an offer of employment. As on-the-job challenges and corporate imperfections come into play, the employee's motivation seems to disappear...and they blame their employer for it.
> The question that begs to be asked is "Are we really taking the wind out of the employee's sail or maybe we hired someone who didn't have as much wind as we thought they did?" This is an important distinction because the answer determines what we fix. If we fix the wrong thing, our fix produces little gain. The new century brought us a new term for this old problem. "Unmotivated employees" became "disengaged employees." And now, the hottest topic pertaining to organizational performance and success is employee engagement. We're still just talking about how to motivate the unmotivated however. How far have we really come after decades upon decades of taking the same old approach? Some Thought Leaders believe employee engagement tactics have actually backfired on employers causing them tolerate and even reward ineffective behaviors. They go on to say that there is little reason for employees to change when responsibility for employee motivation is shifted onto management.
Let's take a look at the assumption that we are already hiring highly-motivated employees. First of all, approximately 80% of all interviewers have received no formal training. Furthermore, most employers allow anyone with an appropriate job title to make hiring decisions. Does anyone else see the enormous potential for avoidable hiring mistakes in this scenario?
Next, let's make sure we understand who the High Performers really are so we don't misclassify anyone. I can't tell you how many times people have told me they are great at selecting employees then continue to share with me all of the problems they are currently having with getting their staff to do their jobs. The employees they're calling High Performers need almost constant micro-managing to meet performance expectations. Hello? These aren't the High Performers. That means you may not be as good at hiring as you think you are!!!
High Performers are amazing. They are ordinary people who have a pattern of going above and beyond while others can't or don't for whatever the reason. High Performers have an innate passion for the work they do so you don't have to talk them into doing it. They already want to do it without you saying a word. This means someone did a great job hiring a candidate to do a job that's right for them. High Performers also have an attitude that's conducive to overcoming tough challenges and real-life, on-the-job obstacles. This translates into being more effective at achieving goals. It also translates into greater organizational success. Here's something High Performer don't do. They don't make excuses or place blame when their results fall short. They take ownership and learn from their experiences so they can do better next time rather than be prone to repeats. These people are "internally" (or "self") motivated. This means nobody has to light a fire under them...or be the wind for their sail. It also means employee engagement is unnecessary because you don't have to motivate the already motivated.
When we say "hire the attitude", it's all about hiring people with an attitude that relentlessly pursues solutions. It's an attitude that believes a good outcome is possible despite strong appearances to the contrary. To be clear, these aren't the people who offer up a laundry list of reasons for why a goal is unrealistic and can't be achieved in advance of trying. Here are some essential insight about attitude: It forms early in childhood. As adults, employees don't leave their attitude (good or bad) at home when they come to work - it comes with them. Employers don't cause their employees to have a bad attitude even if they get blamed for it. And another thing...we don't have the power to change another person's attitude. It's a popular misconception that bad management can take away an employee's good attitude, when in fact, it's the employee who chooses their own attitude - both in good and bad times. As the writer of this article, I can tell you that no one has the power to take away my good attitude because I don't give my power away. True High Performers refuse to adopt an attitude that's detrimental to their success despite adversity or the bad behavior of others. The bottom line is we only have control over our own, whether we exercise that control or not. We need to always place responsibility for a person's attitude squarely on that person. Here's one more big bullet point - interviewers typically don't know how to correctly assess a candidate attitude during the interviewing process. It requires properly and consistently phrased questions that follow three rules. Attitude assessment is scored using either an "I" or and "E". Many interviewers don't know how to do this. And many employers don't actually know if people with effective attitudes are being hired because their interviewers aren't assessing it. Sadly, hiring becomes more about good and bad luck than anything else. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the customer service industry. It's a prime example of the epidemic problem of hiring people with bad attitudes.
Hiring highly motivated employees requires more than just sitting across the desk asking random interview questions. Interviewers need to be properly trained and not just any training program will do. For example, motivation-based interviewing, or "MBI", enables interviewers to assess all three of the components necessary to recognize High Performers. Those three components are skill, passion, and attitude. MBI is not a complicated interviewing process, but its highly effective. It doesn't take any extra interviewing time and it can be used to fill any job opening. There are also a lot of ways to learn MBI, from onsite training for all of your hiring managers to a great interactive online course that you can take anytime. Click here to learn more about MBI.
Imagine a time in the near future when most interviewers know how to interview and hire effectively. That initial school of thought - that we're already hiring High Performers and to create a maximum performance organization we must motivate the unmotivated - would fall by the wayside. By continuing to believe that employers control their employee's motivation, both by inadvertently taking it away and having the power to give it back again, we take away the employee's responsibility for being self-motivated. We fuel the illusion that employee successes and failures are controlled by management and are not of the employee's own doing. By refusing to accept that unmotivated employees are hired, organizations must depend on advances in employee engagement techniques as their only way to achieve greater success. Shifting our answer to this one simple question, "Do employers create disengaged employees or hire them?" could be the catalyst that moves us a quantum leap forward. First, it would cause organizations to reevaluate how well they are currently doing at hiring. The evaluation results would motivated them to evolve beyond selecting candidates based on their skill level alone. They would shift their emphasis from teaching managers how to motivate to training them on how to improve their quality-of-hire. Not only would organizations hire more High Performers, their new hiring strategy would spill over and cause a positive shift in their culture. Existing employees would be urged to look at the role their own attitude is playing in helping or hindering their ability to achieve. Both employee and employer would comprehend how an 'ineffective' attitude stifles problem-solving and undermines self-motivation, ultimately sabotaging both personal and corporate success. By encouraging the truth - that power to create always resides within rather than elsewhere - we inevitably help the unmotivated to become motivated.
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