Is It What or Who You Hire?

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For as long as I can remember, which is a long time, companies have been thinking that they are hiring people. So they do job analysis to identify the skills, abilities and “other” requirements of the job and develop competency models that give them a clear idea of the kinds of assessments and other methods they should use in order to identify the best candidates for the job. The bottom line is that these traditional approaches work, and we trot out validity coefficients and hiring manager endorsements to prove it. But is that enough in a world that is becoming increasingly competitive not only for employees, but for customers? In a word, the answer is “No.

It is not so much who you hire, but what you hire that is important. Our approach to the development of hiring procedures starts with “what” you hire rather than “who” you hire. “What” you hire boils down to two very important things. First, you are hiring your customer’s experience. Second, you are hiring your culture. That’s why your hiring process should start with a clear definition of your intended customer experience and include precise alignment with your culture, in addition to the tradition of job analysis and competency based inputs. From a human resources perspective, including a definitive statement of your customer experience in the development of hiring procedures is what it means to be customer-centric. For example, we developed the management and hiring process used by Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And while we used competency modeling to fine tune the approach, we started with a clear statement of the intended Guest (Customer) Experience. The statement contains two single spaced details of the experience, including four promises. One of the promises is named Total Guest Indulgence and is defined as follows:

The Ruth’s Chris experience is grounded in our love of people and sincere desire to please. We strive to make first-time Guests feel like regulars and are committed to customizing each element of your experience to ensure you are indulged your way. We take pride in attending to the details of a memorable dining experience, respond enthusiastically to special requests, gladly split items from the menu, welcome substitutions and discreetly take care of special needs. We are here to ensure your experience is exactly what you want and leaves you eager to return.

What you see in this example is a richness of the experience that cannot be teased out by either job analysis or competency modeling. What you also see are bits and pieces of a service culture that brings what it means to “exceed customer expectations” to life. In our approach to developing hiring processes that go beyond the traditions of job analysis and competency models, we work with our customer to articulate the experience and support it with assessments of the company’s values, identified through our ValuesMap™ and CultureMap™.

Neither of these measures becomes part of the hiring process. Instead, they are inputs to ensure that “what” gets hired is on the same level as “who” gets hired. Our belief is that it is combining “what” and “who” that takes a company’s hiring process to the next level, a level that “exceeds the expectations” of what the human resource function traditionally contributed to the success of a company.

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