MOBE is always looking for good people to work with the company—both in our corporate office as well as remotely. But what is “good” and how do we determine who the good ones are?
MOBE has had explosive growth in the past few years. Currently, we have over 170 staff, with about 30 in our corporate office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the rest working remotely in various parts of the world.
Being primarily a virtual organization doesn’t eliminate the need for what the human resources industry calls “soft skills”—things like good manners, optimism, a sense of humor, situational awareness, and the ability to collaborate. In fact, the lack of daily face-to-face presence and interaction that is typical of virtual organizations might make the need for good soft skills even more critical.
For me and for MOBE, a person either has the right attitude or they don’t. Certainly, it’s important to possess a reasonable skill set for the kind of work you do, whether it be copywriting, marketing, finance—whatever. But even more importantly, you’ve got to be willing to work with a team. That means acceptance of different kinds of people, cultures, and work styles.
We’ve had some extremely educated and skilled staff who absolutely bombed out with MOBE because they had the wrong attitude.
I’ve discovered that this is not unusual.
Hiring for Attitude
In his book, Hiring for Attitude, leadership trainer and researcher Mark Murphy found that 46 percent of new hires failed within 18 months. The primary reason those employees were excused was not a lack of technical skills. Only 11 percent of the 20,000 cases he tracked lost their job for that reason. Eighty-nine percent of them failed for attitude-related reasons.
But it goes back even further than that. In the early part of the 20th century, Napoleon Hill began studying millionaires to see if he could figure out what they all had in common. Across the 500 men he studied, could he isolate a formula for their success?
He published his findings in 1937 as the book Think and Grow Rich. A common denominator he noted was that, one for one, each millionaire was personable and had a great capacity for cooperation with others—soft skills, by any name.
Hill arrived at the formula for success and summed it up: “Success comes through the application of power, and power is attained through the cooperative efforts of other people.”
Problems and Solutions
While “soft skills” sums up the kind of attitude that produces success in a team environment, there’s another important factor that’s key to the “right attitude.”
There is the kind of person who looks for solutions to every problem and there is the kind who seems to find a problem for every solution. The former will make your life easy; the latter will make it hell.
I can do more with a person who has few technical skills but the right solutions-oriented attitude than I can with the most technically gifted person who creates problems and lacks people skills.
One of MOBE’s key finance employees is a prime example of this. He’d been with the company for two years before I discovered he had a master’s degree in finance. In those two years, he worked in the marketing department, though when he started, he knew nothing about the business or about how to market, let alone online. But I hired him because he had a very solution-oriented attitude. I knew he’d be able to learn the business and he did. It wasn’t a problem to him, but an opportunity to learn.
There are companies who offer and administer pre-employment testing services to determine a candidate’s people skills and capacity for problem solving.
Considering the havoc that the wrong kind of employee can cause to your business or a section of it, this kind of testing and evaluation is well worth the investment to help ensure that you have the right employees.