(Image by Ziglar.com)
“Good character improves every aspect of a person’s life”.
(John C. Maxwell)
Inspirations for Walk into the Future articles come to me from multiple sources. I generate most of the topics based on things I am doing or interested in. I continually ask my friends and tree branches to send me suggestions then work to develop their input into an article for others to learn from.
This post is unique because it has taken years to get to a place where I can develop this topic. My extra inspiration came from one of my closet friends when she texted me a picture that said Hire character, train skill. Believe it or not but I have been saying and using these words over the years when I need to hire someone to join my team. Just never developed it out to highlight the importance of this concept.
The hiring processing is an ongoing concept for me. I learned a long time ago to anticipate future openings and have adequate bench players (basketball term) available. My first action is to create a professional development program to enhance current team members’ knowledge, so they are promotion ready. A lot of organizations state they hire from within, but this is impossible if you are not actively training your staff. My goal has always been to prepare staff to take over for me if I am not there. This has led to staff being attractive to other organizations and I am thrilled to serve as a professional reference for my folks if they need it. Happy to report 5 out of 11 members from my Florida State University Employer Relations team held Director or Associate Director titles for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. Immensely proud of my crew and the great things they are getting done. They are all high character people and wanted to learn daily. They were also quick to apply their new knowledge within the work environment.
My second action is to build relationships with people in my industry through networking and conference attendance. This allows me to identify people who will fit within my team structure if I have an opening. I offer direct mentorship to these folks to help them grow their careers at their current locations. I make a point to let a select few know I would like them to work on my team if an opening exists. Please note, some of these people may not be looking or interested in the current location but it helps to put out feelers before there is a need to hire someone. Again, character is a major part of this outreach effort.
My third action is to never eliminate someone simply because their background and experiences may not line up perfectly with the job description. Nothing I have done professionally is rocket science and someone with the right character can be trained for the work I perform. The character of the hire should enhance the overall performance of the team and bring some unique talents to make us better. It helps to bring in someone who has diverse thoughts, background, and experiences so we can learn from them as well. Maintaining a solid organizational training program provides the foundation needed to bring someone in with less on paper experience and gets them up to speed on the operational pace needed for success. I would rather invest the time to train someone with the character needed for success than bring in someone with paper skills, no integrity, teamwork, or ability to make the team better. I have seen these folks destroy the team dynamic and it takes a long time to recover. Energy vampires!
I cannot say I have gotten this process right 100% of the time but I have more successful character hires than not. I continue to learn and evolve my hiring practices but hire for character, train for skill remains the foundation for me.
Look at the current national leadership model to understand the importance of character in the work environment! The lack of character can destroy organizations from within.
What is your hiring philosophy? How has it evolved over the years? Thanks!
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”.