Leaderisticality

How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Why You Should Hire For What Can’t Be Trained

Train track making connections

Every company has systems set up for training. We have modules, packets, guides, and perhaps even ‘how to train the trainer’ training sessions.

And I’m going to bet the majority of those are for training “soft skills”. Perhaps a quarter to half of them are task based, and with the rest you are attempting to train qualities.  The problem is qualities can only be learned when we are  ready to learn, and when we need to learn that particular quality.  We learn these from experience.

Seriously… take a quick look at the list of trainings you have spent time and money on in the past. How many skills or tasks are on the list? And how many qualities does it include? If you are attempting to train qualities you are wasting your time and money.  Why you ask?  Well…

Does anyone really believe that Trust can be taught during a one or two-day training session? Trust is something that must be learned through life experience, through challenging and changing the way we see the world and how we fit in it. How would you even begin to train someone to extend trust?

You could tell them why they should, and if they do not see the world as a safe place, they will not be able to extend trust. You can describe how to extend trust, and tell them the benefits of extending trust, and if they don’t already have self-confidence and courage they will not be able to extend trust. We simply cannot do what we don’t have the tools to do.

Does anyone reading this believe that they can spend a couple of hours, or even days with someone, and leave them with the ability and desire to develop honest, trusting, strong relationships? This again comes to us from life experience… the desire as well as the ability to be honest and open with other people is either within us today, or it is not. If it is not, no one can put it there. Every person must do his or her own personal work, and with luck, come to the point where we feel that we are enough just the way we are, truly love ourselves, and genuinely care about others. Only then can we really open up to others, and build the kind of trusting relationships it takes to be a Leader.

Which of us can teach passion? You, over there… can you teach someone how to be charismatic? You may be able to teach them the definition of the word, and perhaps how we think charismatic people act… and I don’t believe that any of us can teach a quality that comes from within.

What about Vision? Teachability? Servanthood? Emotional Intelligence?

Self-responsibility? Collaboration? Self-discipline? Compassion? Humility?

Can any of these be taught? How about just caring about other people?  Can you train that?

So far we have only talked about some of the qualities of a Leader, but what about some of the qualities that we look for in good team players? What about Solution oriented? Can any of us teach another to be Dependable? We can tell them what we mean when we say that word, however the desire to be dependable comes from within. Can you really train someone to communicate openly and honestly? How about to be an active listener? I’m sure you can tell them what you mean, however none of us can give someone the interest, or make them care enough to listen to understand.

This is why LinkedIn and the internet is filled with blog posts and articles reminding us again and again of how Leaders should act. If we could easily learn these qualities we would have it all down by now. I believe that you can name any quality you desire, and find it impossible to train.

However we can train pretty much anything else to almost anyone you can name.   You send me the next person you see, and I can train them to be competent in any task associated with running a grocery store. Many of you could do the same in your area of experience. We can train tasks easily to anyone, and yet we hire for tasks and attempt to train for qualities.

So… why do we continue to spend so much money attempting to train these qualities to everyone, from our Leaders to our hourly team members? Hmmm…

Think about what makes people successful… is it IQ? Is it because they have a PhD? Is it because they know the most about the product/department/what ever you name? No… the most successful people are the ones who know how to build trust and relationships. Yes… you need machinists, chemists, web designers, programmers, etc… and imagine if all of them had the same qualifications AND were able to extend trust, develop strong relationships, were servant leaders, with focus, passion and self-responsibility… what would your workplace look like? What could you achieve?

To this end, team Leaders should be able to do their own hiring, and I’ll tell you why. Hiring for qualities is not easy. Even when trained and experienced, it can still be difficult to be sure of hiring the right people… we all make mistakes. To reduce the probability of mistakes, those doing the hiring must be connected to the outcome. That is, if I hire for my team, I am responsible for the success or failure of that person. As a Leader, it is my job to see that they are successful… if they fail it is my failing.

What are the benefits of team Leaders hiring their own?

  • If the team Leader can do their own hiring they are invested in the success of the team member.
  • Team Leaders can indoctrinate (onboard if you prefer) team members better than anyone else… no one other than the team Leader can impress, indoctrinate, and provide that all important initial guidance and expectations.
  • Team Leaders can start building relationships with their team members the day they make the decision to hire them.
  • No one knows the needs of the team like the team Leader.
  • No one has a more intimate knowledge of what actions describe these qualities than team Leaders.
  • It takes an intimate knowledge of these actions to ask the right questions in order to identify these qualities.

This is why it’s better if team Leaders are trained to hire for qualities, and then allowed to hire for their own teams. Anyone and everyone who is involved in hiring needs to be untrained, and then retrained in the ways of the force… no wait… how to hire for qualities instead of skills. At least that’s my experience… a bit of a rant, I know…

Oh… and if you like my blog, please ‘like’ my Facebook page. The button is just up there at the top right. I dare you to click it!

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3 thoughts on “Why You Should Hire For What Can’t Be Trained

  1. Pingback: What Does Your Turnover Say About Your Hiring? | Leaderisticality

  2. Hi Steve,

    I spent years in the grocery business. I began as a bagger in 1976 and worked (on and off) as a cashier, stock clerk, meat wrapper, and front end manager until 1998. In each area I was considered a team leader. I can relate to your stance on all fronts and I commend you for putting to words the feelings so many of us in the industry have had a difficult time expressing for ourselves. I loved your article. Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Author Debbie Clark

  3. Pingback: What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 1 of a series… | Leaderisticality

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