A major theme that ties together my new book, Talent Optimizer, is the importance of matching values between candidates, managers, teams, and organizations. I genuinely believe that identifying values is critical to the process of building a high functioning organization. But it is also crucial to consider how the behaviour and abilities of an employee will fit. In the long run, this matters more than the skillsets that employees bring with them.
What I firmly believe is this: if we get great people who believe in a shared set of values, we will always have a place for them as the company grows. So, let’s explore how you can develop a process that will effectively bring such people under your leadership and harness their unique abilities.
The Difference Between Skills and Abilities
For a manager to be successful, you must be aware of an employee’s abilities. Skills typically refer to the outcome of particular training or education, whereas abilities refer more to behavioural and cognitive traits among people. For example, let’s take two basketball players who are nearly identical in physical features (let’s call them Player A and Player B) and compare them. Player A has a higher success of scoring lay-ups over Player B. For judging this data, we might say that Player A is more skilled at scoring lay-ups. But if Player B is a full foot shorter than Player A, then we’re using the wrong metric to judge each member’s added value to the team. In this case, Player A’s height allows him/her to access the net better, thus contributing to their higher percentage of lay-ups. But while Player B may not score as many lay-ups, maybe he/she is an excellent point guard and makes terrific plays that Player A is simply not capable of. Thus, both players’ abilities are very different from the other but equally important to the success of the team. One scores more points while the other makes great plays that allow them to do so.
One of the defining characteristics of abilities is that they are difficult—and, in some cases, impossible—to develop. Such is the case of the shorter basketball player who is unable to score as many lay-up shots as a result of height limitations. But each role in a team or organization requires a particular set of abilities for optimal results. The problem is that managers often neglect the importance of this and fail to hire someone with the right set of abilities for the position. And the reason managers typically fail to find the right candidate has to do with their failure to define the abilities that each given role requires accurately. To do this, managers should focus on determining both the behavioural and cognitive abilities that are required for the position.
The Importance of Behaviour and How to Measure It
As individuals, we each have a set of behavioural attributes: some of us are more adaptable, while others are more decisive or patient. The hiring process should begin by
recognizing that those differences exist, and then understanding how these differences must be integrated for the organization to be successful. I am talking about behavioural attributes because it can have an impact on the success or failure of a potential hire.
Developing a process where you hire an applicant based on what abilities they carry can be a complicated process. We are all susceptible to bias and preferences, so it is common that a manager may hire a new employee based on how they admired certain aspects of that individual. But this subjectivity does not consider what abilities and behaviours would be optimal for the role under review. Such is why we need to consider how we can develop an objective way of assessing whether a recruit has the right abilities for a role. To do this, I walk clients through implementing what is known as the Predictive Index®.
The Predictive Index® behavioural assessment measures four core behavioural drives using a free-choice checklist methodology. Those four core behaviours are:
What is tricky with the interview process is that we are typically forced to make critical judgments based only on observational data. Thus, in trying to determine a set of behaviours and abilities, we are relying solely on what we can observe in the short window we have in the recruitment process. By employing the Predictive Index® methodology, managers can gain insight into what type of work people will find most satisfying over the long run. In doing so, you avoid hiring the wrong people and prevent a potential decline in productivity and results.