It always surprises us how many prospective clients say they want only people with positive attitudes on their team.
When faced with this we have to ask,
1. What do you mean only?
2. And what do you mean by positive attitude?
Typically we hear the following answers in so many words-
1. We want people who follow instructions and do their job.
2. We want people who are resilient and can handle change and adversity.
3. We want people who look for solutions not problems.
4. We want people who can persevere.
5. We don’t like people who talk back.
6. We just don’t want any negative people in our company.
7. When I say jump, I want people who say “how high!”
8. I want “yes I can” people.
And we hear many other derivations of the above.
Here is the challenge-Many positions actually require critical people who are highly analytical with an eagle eye for detail and error. These aren’t people with a negative attitude. Lets consider the following positions-
1. QA Tech
2. Compliance Supervisor
3. Quality Control Manager
4. Electrical Inspector
5. Industrial Engineer
6. Safety Manager
7. Under ground wire and pipe locator
And many other positions, do not need, or should we say, cannot have a delusional sycophant (another word for “always has a positive attitude”) in place, if your the goal is a high performer. Many hiring managers and business owners who adhere to the positive attitude test, if left to their own instinct, would hire people who are prone to sycophant behavioral tendencies.
This is the main point. When hiring, organizations need to know the behavioral tendencies required to perform well and those that may derail a candidate. This is much more nuanced than a simple gut feel if someone is negative or positive.
Jim Collins, in his Book, Good to Great, makes it clear that the best CEO’s advocate and promote debate and desire people who will stand up for how they see impact and potential outcomes from major decisions.
That being said, hiring managers and business owners need to know not only a candidate’s behavioral tendencies, but those behaviors that can lead to success or failure for each position. We call this benchmarking or profiling a position.
Lets look at a few of the more detailed behaviors we suggest benchmarking and then assessing candidates for the tendency, using normed evidence based tools.
Excitable, Skeptical, Cautious, Reserved, Leisurely
Bold, Mischievous, Colorful, Imaginative, Diligent, Dutiful
As you can see, each one of the tendencies may or may not be perceived as positive or negative. Each one also has sub behaviors.
And there a number of other behaviors and cognitive skills that are predictive of job fit and on the job performance. Every job and culture will have a different benchmark and profile that helps guide a decision about potential success or failure of a candidate.
As you might see now, assessing candidates, is not as easy as asking, “do they have a positive attitude”. A positive attitude may not even be needed and in fact depending on the job, may be an impediment to post hire job performance.
We believe, and research validates our belief, this cannot be left to gut or instinct feel of a hiring manger or business owner.
By-Kenneth l. Greenberg, CEO-KLG Consultants, LLC
KLG Consultants, LLC a Talent Acquisition and Talent Development firm based in Colorado. The firm offers custom professional development programs and skilled professionals on an outsourced and permanent hire basis to organizations of all types and size.