Tag Archives: recruiting for attitude

Attitude over Aptitude

I’ve had conversations with 3 different businesses this week about staff recruitment and getting the right people on-board. 

Getting your recruitment wrong can be costly, not just from the additional expense of recruiting, but all the knock-on impact that can have on staff morale, extra workload for fellow team members and disruption for your customers.

What I see many businesses doing is recruiting solely on qualifications and experience, but when it comes to under-performance that very often comes down to attitude.

In other words, they recruit on aptitude, but fire on attitude.

So, in this week’s blog post here are 3 considerations to help you recruit on attitude rather than aptitude.

  1. Test for a service mentality at recruitment. When your service standards are clearly defined it’s easier to identify the essential attributes you’re looking for in your ideal candidates. You can develop skills by training, but it’s more difficult to change people’s attitudes.
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    Think about your star performers. What are the characteristics that make them stand out? Then look for these traits when recruiting.
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    These can be a little more tricky to identify so ask for examples of situations they have been in that demonstrate these traits.
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    Test their perception of what makes good service and why it’s important. You don’t want to spend your time having to spell this out.
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  2. Create a business were people love to work, and are happy to be advocates and ambassadors for your business. Even when they move on.
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    This way when you come to recruit you’ll be able to do so wisely and have a steady stream of people – who share your ethos – queueing up, rather than your business being a last resort for those desperate for any job they can get!
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  3. Extend the same criteria to third party providers. Your suppliers could be your customers’ very first impression (such as a security guard at your site, a receptionist at your serviced offices or your call answering service) or very last impression (e.g. your delivery company).
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    The two most critical touch points on your customer’s journey. Don’t leave these to chance with your suppliers.

Action point

If you just do one thing, make a list of the traits that make your star team members stand out and put these to the top of your list of prerequisites when recruiting.



Attracting talent for a good customer experience

At our local Institute of Directors event last week we discussed the topic of attracting and retaining talent in a tight market.Ensuring a consistent customer experience from seasonal staff

Of course having the right people on board is imperative for achieving a good customer experience. Not having sufficient people with the right skills will obviously impact service delivery.

But the way that service is delivered is of course dependent on the energy and enthusiasm of the people behind it.

Here’s a summary of some of the key points covered, with some of my own thoughts for good measure.

Why are they leaving?

If you are constantly striving to look for new staff then consider why you have a vacancy in the first place.

Fantastic news if it’s down to growth; but more often than not it’s down to labour turnover.

Unless we understand why staff are leaving it will be difficult to reverse the trend.

They say that people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses, so if someone has already made up their mind to leave be sensitive as to how you find out! But of course prevention is better than cure. Listening to, involving and engaging your team is a topic in itself, so I’m not going to cover this here.

But naturally if you’ve got good people you want to hang onto them. And of course they can make great ambassadors for your business.

Define what you’re looking for

It’s all too easy to focus on replacing like for like.

But when someone moves on it might be an ideal opportunity to restructure to open up opportunities for your existing loyal team members, and potentially giving you more flexibility in terms of potential candidates that can fulfil the new role.

In my experience when recruiting businesses tend to focus on skills and experience. But how often when we are reviewing somebody’s under performance do we focus on their attitude towards the work rather than capability? If team work and/or customer service are important to your business then define what attributes you are looking for so there are good fit for your company culture/aspirations.

Once you know what you’re looking for it’s a darn sight easier to use language that appeals to your ideal candidate. If you want someone enthusiastic, dynamic and lively make your ad enthusiastic, dynamic and lively too! You’re not looking to attract anyone who’s desperate for a job; make it clear what you’re looking for and who fits the bill of the ideal candidate.

Build your network and your pipeline

By the time you have a vacancy all your focus is on filling that vacancy as quickly as possible. Wouldn’t it be great to have a queue of people waiting with bated breath for you to get in touch to tell them you have that job they’ve been waiting for?!

Use your network of business contacts, connections with education, your existing team and even your customers to help develop a “candidate pool” from which you can pick the best candidates.  Network or socialise where your prospective staff are; this will not only help to build relationships and reputation but will give you an opportunity to see people in a more relaxed environment.

Keep this as an ongoing activity rather than waiting until you suddenly have a vacancy to fill.

Develop your talent

Promote from within whenever possible.  Always let your existing team members know when a position is available.  Even if this is not a step up, it may present a new challenge to keep someone motivated.

If you do have internal applicants treat them in the same way as your external ones – acknowledging receipt of their application, interviews, offer letters, salary details, etc.  If internal candidates do not get the job ensure you give feedback to help with their development and to encourage them to apply for future positions.

Become a great place to work

Create a culture where the best employees will want to work, and build a reputation as a good employer so you attract the best people.

This includes continuing to build your brand with applicants who haven’t been successful.

What does it mean to work for your organisation? Ask your existing employees for their perspective and to share what’s important to them about working for you.
If your existing team feel valued they are far more likely to recommend you to others and spread the word that it’s a great place to work.

No regrets

Start your induction process at the point they accept your job offer.

Let them know how much you are looking forward to them coming to work for you. Drip feed information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome. This might include a background to your business, your values and what’s important to you, current topical information, an invitation to any events/social activities happening between now and their start date, a copy of their induction programme and the point of contact for day one.

Doing all this before they start will make them feel more welcome and minimise that risk of any second thoughts.

Hit the ground running

During the first few weeks in the job people start to make up their mind whether or not this is the place they want to stay and whether or not they’re able to pursue their career here.

For new people it can sometimes feel to them as if they are not achieving much in the early days. So consider allocating a specific project that they can get stuck in to and for which they have some responsibility and ownership.

This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.

For more on employee engagement see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/engagement/


Do you recruit hospitality staff on attitude or aptitude?

What most people think about is what the job is and what are the skills that are needed.

I’m not saying that the skills are not important. Of course if you are recruiting a chef, you need someone with the right skills and experience.

And you’ll be looking for someone to complement your existing skills set.

You’ll also want people who will fit in with your values and your philosophy and your beliefs. If you have a particular value that you stress as part of your hotel offering, then it’s important to people who will tie in with and reflect those values.

But hospitality is about people. You can teach how to work to your systems, but having the right attitude, is absolutely essential. So rather than always thinking about the skills that you want to recruit for is to think about the attitude you need to recruit for.

And to my mind there are three things to consider here:

Having a passion for the business. That can be difficult to assess, particularly if you are recruiting someone who so far has very little experience within the industry. But do they how an interest in food, or any inclination towards wanting to work in hospitality, rather than it being ‘just a job’.

They need to like people. Hospitality is all about being welcoming, making people feel at home, and if they don’t have that aptitude, and that interest in wanting to make people happy, and liking people, they are not going to be a particularly good match.

And we all know this is an industry that requires hard work, and graft, so having that willingness to work hard is something that is going to be important to you.

There is a challenge here, and that is, how do you measure these things? So, when you are going out to recruit somebody do think about what are the ways you are going to measure these less specific or less tangible aspects; those attitudinal things. You may ask about their past experience, where they’ve worked before, how they’ve handled specific situations, or ask them to describe their own examples of when they have gone that extra mile for someone, or handled a particularly challenge.

Even with a school leaver look for examples of things they have done outside school to demonstrate taking on responsibility, working as a team, and so on.

Know what you want beforehand, think about what might demonstrate those attributes, and then don’t take their word for it, test it, challenge them and look for real examples. Better to find out in the interview if they haven’t got what it takes than after you’ve hired them.

All this and more will be covered in depth on my new on line Leadership Coaching Programme for Hoteliers being launched in September. Register here to attend the free tele seminar, receive more information, and be eligible for the early bird bonuses.

Caroline Cooper