Are you “Hiring for Skills” but “Firing for Attitude”?

April 14, 2023

That’s the conundrum in a nutshell. The last time you dismissed anyone, it’s highly likely that it was for discipline, attitude or behaviour, not their ability to do the job. Which begs the question: why do companies keep recruiting people for skills, qualifications and experience, when it’s their attitude, personality and behaviour that are far more important?

Perhaps the best way of illustrating this is by telling you what recently happened to my mum. At 93, and with advanced Alzheimer’s, Mum isn’t very steady on her pins and a few weeks ago she had a fall. She ended up in a local A&E where they patched her up and sent her off to a general ward to recover. Physically she got better very quickly, but the treatment she received from the nurses on her ward had a disastrous effect on her mental health. She wasn’t neglected, ignored or abused, but she was not treated with the care and compassion that a scared and confused old lady finding herself in a strange place needed. They did the bare minimum and no more.

Contrast this with the treatment she received two weeks later at another local NHS hospital, where she was admitted after she had stopped eating as a result of the trauma of her earlier admission. Following that stay, Mum is almost back to what now counts as “normal”, smiling, talking, interacting with the carers and, in the last two days, even eating by herself. I’m quite sure that the staff on both wards had the right qualifications, skills and experience. But the difference between them was kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness. Sure, they have rules just as every hospital does, but they did not forget that their job is about caring for people, not just following the rules.

However you go about your recruitment, it’s vitally important that you select people whose personality and aptitude are suited to the job, for example, empathy, compassion, patience in this case. So, don’t waste time screening CVs for skills and interviewing unsuitable people: start recruiting staff on their attitude, personality and aptitude.