Recruit for Attitude


“Your team is amazing” a colleague told me recently, of course I agreed. She then asked me why that was. I had to think for a moment, and I realised it’s largely because I’ve managed to recruit the right people. So her next question, naturally, was “how do you know who to choose”.

I’ll interview people who fit the “80% plus rule”. They need to meet 80% of the requirements listed in the job vacancy, and meet them solidly. There’s no point pretending that shopping at Amazon counts as online project management experience. The “plus” is they need to have done something remarkable; having a company on your CV which is a legend in online marketing helps, but so would winning a design award as a student.

So my interview list is made up of people who meet the knowledge + skills + performance test. After that I’m recruiting for attitude;

  • self motivated
  • interested in what they do
  • forward looking
  • happy

Yes, I recruit happy people. I’ve got to work with them, I don’t want a bunch of grumps. I want people who work hard, take responsibility, look forward, have a (mostly) positive attitude, and buckets of sense of humour.

So in an interview I will look for those characteristics – how they’ve handled bad stuff in the past, how they’ve processed it, are they positive about the future, can they laugh at themselves. Do they take fair responsibility for stuff that’s gone wrong, and perhaps more telling – for stuff that’s gone right.

One last thing I look at – how do the candidates treat the secretary. In my last recruiting round she brought each of the final candidates up for their second interview. The guy who was successful was not only courteous he talked to her about how long she’d been at the company, what she liked about her job. He let go of his own nerves and spoke to her like a person. She said he was the one to hire, and she was right.

I know my team are great, individually and together. I took part in recruiting all but one of them – it’d be odd if I thought otherwise.

image say yes

2010 Goals

I’ve met one deadline for 2010; I’ve set the goals for my team for the year. It had to be done by today.

We already had a team meeting to discuss the goals for the team in general, so next step was individual goals. We’ve agreed on performance goals and development goals for 2010.

I had a discussion with one member of the team, about how these goal setting and assessment systems are subjective and how frustrating it is.

How could I answer?

First of all it is true, the score he gets is based on one person’s assessment of his work, and as we’re not working in an environment with numerical targets there is a certain amount of . Secondly we set goals now as a best guess of what we’ll do in the year but, as happened last year, that can all change.

So I answered that there was always some element of subjectivity in any system and part of trying to make it fair was agreeing together on the goals. Then I explained my attitude to the goal setting process; set a range of goals, some which are regular business, some which are tougher, some which more of a best guess about what will happen in the second half of the year. I do this so that there is a full year of goals, some of which are sure to be achieved some of which will challenge the team member.

In terms of assessing the achievement I look at results. Yes, results-full-stop. Once I’ve done that I look back on the year and try to judge whether the goal was fair, or whether there were circumstances beyond our control that made it harder to achieve the goal. If it wasn’t I might have to adjust the assessment. In our system the goals are weighted so once that is taken into account a final score can be calculated. Then I think back on previous years and see if that score is a fair and consistent score. Of course each step involves a certain amount of subjectivity.

Then there’s a department-wide adjustment; based on the theory that we’re all on the same normal curve so you should have one team all scoring As and another all Cs. I find this a bit hard to take – it does mean that your best chance of getting a great score is to go and work in a rubbish team, but the idea behind it is around fairness and ironing out those super-generous or super-harsh managers.

Last year was a year of changing priorities, which meant that it was tough to meet existing goals in a changing environment. The thing that slipped was the development goals. I only spent a tiny part of my 2009 training budget, and there were/are some training needs. This year one of my performance goals is making sure my team get the training they need. If everyone follows through on the plans presented today that will be easy.

image goals