Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Hire Hourly Team Members part 7… Finding Emotionally Intelligent People

As we talked about last time, we are not looking for team members who do only what they are told… We can only be great by hiring people who will do more than is expected; who will work to find a more efficient way of doing the task; who will exceed our customer’s expectations… people for whom the minimum is not enough.

Is hard work it’s own reward? (Yes would be good, and people applying for your minimum wage job are sometimes barely able to pay the rent and put food on the table, so keep this in mind).  If you do happen to get a yes, ask why.  Do they have something on which they work hard?  What do they get out of that?

This leads us to another very important aspect of our applicant’s personality… pride.  For right now we mean is there anything in which the applicant takes a great deal of pride?  (We’ll talk about humility later) I have found that almost everyone has something in which they take pride, even if it’s (just) keeping the house clean, never missing a church service, playing a musical instrument, or keeping the kids in clean clothes.  Many people have something artistic they work on, or some sport that they enjoy and into which they put a lot of effort.  Question the applicant to search these out… too many people do not have others in their lives to give them positive feedback, and so it might take some effort to get there.  Once we find something the applicant is proud of and get them talking about it, we’ll find it easier to get them to be more forthcoming with information about the other things we are interested in.
I would be hard pressed to hire someone who did not have anything in their life in which they took pride (or if they simply won’t open up and talk about it)… this should raise a very big red flag!

Once we get them talking about the thing in which they take pride ask them all about it.  Find out why they do it; who got them started; what they get out of it besides a feeling of pride; would they do that for a living if they could?  If they say they would do it for a living, ask what is keeping them from pursuing that.  We might find out that it will take more time or expertise and that they are in fact working towards that… I absolutely love to hear that, and I’ll add bonus points to that applicant when it comes time to make a decision.  I have found that an applicant who has the drive to pursue a goal like turning a hobby into a profession will often be a great team member.  As long as we keep realistic expectations about their availability, and help them achieve their goals, I have found these people to be much better than average hires.

Next up, are they well adjusted?  Are YOU well adjusted for that matter?  What does that even mean?   There are many ways to define well adjusted… like accepting life on life’s terms; able to roll with the punches; accepting (or better yet embracing) whatever happens; saying ‘yes’ to life; living in a way that shows you understand that we cannot control what happens, only our reaction to what happens.

So how do we ascertain whether or not the applicant is well adjusted?  Again, we ask questions… they don’t have to be about anything in particular… just get the applicant talking about their life at home, at a job, hobbies, sports, their trip to the interview… it won’t take long before an opportunity comes up to ask about something that didn’t go as planned.  There are ALWAYS, lane closures, delayed flights, bad customer service, family members who are well meaning and yet drive us crazy, issues with Bank fees, the list goes on and on.  Things happen pretty much daily in all of our lives that could make us annoyed or angry.  Some people allow these things to completely derail them, while others are able to take them in stride.

People are going to do what people do.  It’s pretty normal to get annoyed or angry… it’s how quickly we let it go and move on that counts.  If we are still feeling strongly about something that happened to us we’ll find it almost impossible to not have at least a little of that feeling come through when we start talking about it again.  So these are the things we ask about, and get the applicant talking about.  Keep aware of the emotional charge in the applicant while talking about one of these times.  A little emotion is ok.  Someone who is still obviously very angry about something (relatively normal) that happened hours ago is probably not going to help your team achieve greatness!  Thank them for their time and move on!

How does the applicant react to these situations they are describing?  Will they throw gas on the fire?  Are they ready for a fight?  Have they been in fights or violent altercations?
Any of the above… thank them for coming in and move on!

Will the applicant try to diffuse the situation?  Will they address their feelings and concerns with the right people?  And in an appropriate way?  How do they act if their feelings and concerns are not heard?  Do they act differently in a public setting than they would in private?  Ask more questions about any attempts to communicate their feelings.  Are they happy they tried, even if they didn’t achieve any real resolution?  Will they continue to express their feelings, or is the lesson they learn to keep their mouths shut and allow resentment to build?  If the latter seems the case, thank them for coming in and move on.

Are they able to recognize their feelings when asked about them?  When they describe a situation that might invoke strong feelings be sure to state what you might feel if it were you.  Such as… “Sounds like that would make me angry”; “I’ll bet you were annoyed at that?”; or “how did you feel about that?”.  If this sounds too touchy feely to you I’d suggest a little personal work of your own is in order.  As Leaders we should be able to talk about our feelings, and be very comfortable talking to others about their feelings.  It’s part of being an adult, and it shows our empathy.

We want to hire people who are somewhat emotionally intelligent.  We also have to understand that it can take a lot of personal work for many of us to achieve some level of emotional intelligence, so don’t expect miracles here.  Just see if the applicant can identify what they were feeling.  It’s also important to see how much of their feelings they own.  That is, do they take responsibility for their feelings?  No one can make any of us ‘feel’ any particular emotion.  We are the only ones who can make ourselves feel anything.  Does the applicant understand that? 

If our applicant won’t talk about any time that brought up negative emotions they are not being genuine with us, and I will not be hiring them!  I feel the same way if the applicant states that they let go of every emotion immediately. In my experience they will never be genuine or openly honest with you, which makes it impossible to form a real relationship with them.  They will not help your team achieve greatness.  Hire them at your own risk! 

If our applicant does not own their emotions, I will not be hiring them!  In my experience any problems or issues will always be someone else’s fault (and there will ALWAYS be problems and issues surrounding these people!).  Hire them at your own risk!

If our applicant can talk about things that bring up negative emotions, and is able, in a ‘reasonable’ time to let them go that’s fine.  It’s a plus if they are able to identify their feelings.  They must however own them.  If they have no other red flags, and yet they do not at first own their feelings, it’s quite possible that they don’t understand what you are asking of them.  Many of us are raised in households where feelings are simply not talked about, so we have not had any training or good role models around emotional intelligence.  Getting the applicant to talk about someone they know with these same issues can often allow them to see what we are talking about, and ‘get it’.

If our applicant has a reasonably balanced view of the world, can talk about something they take pride in, is able to recognize and own their emotions, AND can talk about times when they sought some resolution to their issues… they are most of the way there! Remember, we’re looking for people who will be great at building relationships, and with luck will be our next generation of leaders.  I agree with Jim Collins Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't  … good is the enemy of great!  You do yourself and everyone else on the team a disservice by settling for anything less than great!

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