Connecting the Dots Blog

People Are Our Greatest Asset

When I was an HR Manager at a large paper mill, I learned a very important lesson – the best way to ensure success is to hire the right (matches) people!

Great Companies Are Committed to Rigorous Employee Selection


I suppose that’s why I always was surprised at the casual and often relaxed attitude many managers take when it comes to hiring. Looking at our competitors, I saw little difference as far as production machines and equipment. Therefore, the way to differentiate ourselves was hiring the right people. (At the heart of most great companies is a strong emphasis on the hiring process.)

What makes a great hiring process? Well, first we must ask, what exactly are we hiring people to do? The answer is simple: to perform!

Performance is a Function of Ability and Motivation


And what do people need in order to perform? They need ability and motivation (a supportive environment is important as well -- more on that later). We express this in the formula that follows where “a” is ability and “m” is motivation and call it the performance equation.

P = f (a, m) = the performance equation

The Key -- Predicting Performance


If ability and motivation are needed to perform, how do we determine if someone possesses the abilities required and the motivation needed to be successful?

How to Measure Ability


To determine ability, we can test, but which tests do we use? And for what job or jobs do we need them to determine a person’s ability to perform well? Initially, we are placing the new hires in entry-level jobs, but we are in fact hiring them for higher-level positions that they will advance to in a reasonable period of time (5-8 years).

The first step is to analyze top operative jobs to determine what abilities are required. Then, the question is how to identify the appropriate tests. Fortunately, there is a reliable tool that does this. It’s called the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ).

By the way, cognitive ability tests have been identified by leading industrial psychologists in many studies, as the single best predictor in our arsenal to predict job performance.

How to Measure Motivation


Now that we have addressed the ability portion of the performance equation, we need to determine how to measure someone’s motivation/adaptation level which is the other half of the performance equation.

The Structured Board Interview Process


An effective way to assess motivation/adaptation is a structured board interview process. What is meant by a structured board interview process? The key components of a structured board interview include:
1. A team of key stakeholders trained in the structured board interview process
2. The use of a structured set of historical and behaviorally based interview questions
3. A highly organized setting
4. A process that is not free-lance or arbitrary

Here is a behaviorally based interview question: Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker. What were the circumstances, how did you respond, and what was the effect of your response?

The Golden Rule for Effective Selection


We rigorously assess:
• Ability via carefully selected ability tests
• Motivation/adaptation via structured board interviews

What Rigorous Selection Provides – Your Greatest Asset
In the end, taking a structured and formalized approach to hiring can actually save you time and a lot of headaches. It helps you clearly see the type of person who will be successful in the position, provides a roadmap of questions to ask during interviews, highlights abilities to be tested, and delivers input from others that will either corroborate first impressions or highlight disconnects.

All of this significantly increases the likelihood of hiring employees destined to perform well and succeed at intermediate and top-level jobs, which leads to improved company performance, which leads us back to our premise -- people are your greatest asset.



For over three decades, Mike has worked tirelessly internally as a Human Resources Manager and externally as a consultant perfecting the tools and precise methods to take the guesswork out of employee selection.

Read more posts by Michael Quinn

 Neenah, WI 54956
(804) 557-5033
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