No Matter What Business You’re in, You’re in the People Business.

Let me share my experience and some of the process I’ve used for decades for getting the right people on the bus and into the right seat.

Once you get into a career of management, once you start your business as an entrepreneur, once you are scaling/growing your business the fuel to growth is predicated on how well you do in surrounding yourself with the right supporting cast. You will never be any better than the employees or direct reports you have reporting to you.

In my experience as an executive and now as a certified trainer and executive coach, this one key component either makes an executive successful, or a company thrive or a manger more impactful to their organization. There is no way this can be argued. It just is.

Yet as I begin working with companies, this single most important element for success goes ignored with little or no regard for how to get it right. Hiring decisions are being made daily with the same flawed approach that creates extra work and low productivity due to poor hiring decisions. Even more impactful to potential team dysfunction is the decision process for whom to promote to the manager.

The real root cause for almost every “people issue” company experience is that managers, executives, and even owners are untrained when it comes to the how’s of people selection. No matter whether it is for a new hire or an internal promotion.

I experience in my business decision-maker after decision-maker deciding on who to hire or promote with little or no education, training or process to make sound decisions. Here’s what I see the most. They are going by their gut instincts, how they feel, or rushing to just get the hiring or promotion decision done and off their busy “to do” list. Yet it is one of the most important decisions they will make regarding their own future. In my opinion, nothing will impact the health and success of a team or entire organization than the decisions made on hiring and promotion.

Let me share my experience and some of the processes I’ve used for decades for getting the right people on the bus and into the right seat. These two critical steps alone can create a path to success for you as a business professional and create sustainable success for the entire organization.

Let me be very transparent here. You see I too screwed up selecting the right people to surround myself with for years. My lack of knowledge of the proper process for making hiring and promotion decisions held me back. This created long hours and frustration for me. As I realized the pain and extra work I was causing myself, I set upon finding a process that would be far more effective.

Through educating myself and discovering best practices I became better and more successful. Developing a real-world approach was a game-changer for me. In time my ability to hire train and promote great people to fuel the needs of my employers became what I was known to be the best at. I’ve hired thousands of employees and managers successfully using these steps. You can too.

The Two Most Important Steps

Step One: Create or Update Written Job Descriptions

Don’t start recruiting unless you have the job description for the new hire. If you have one, update it. If you don’t have one, create one.

This may seem pretty simple but I am constantly surprised by how many companies get this wrong. They turn this into a task without the thought needed to make it impactful. Develop job descriptions, with defined duties, responsibilities, authorities, and skills. This is essential for determining expectations, both on the part of the employee candidate and you, as the manager. The job description should show what you really want the new employee to do. What are the competencies and knowledge required?

According to the Gallup Q12, the most important elements to job satisfaction and employee engagement is, “I know what is expected of me at work.” When the supervising manager and the employee begin the working relationship knowing exactly what great looks like…greatness follows.

When preparing a job description, write out the ongoing objectives of the position, rather than just a set of skills. It should be clear to the candidate that you want someone who can accomplish certain objectives.

Again, what is expected of them and what does success looks like?

Step 2: Identify the Desired Behaviors and Personality Styles

This may be the best advice you will ever get when it comes to this topic.

I’m going to ask you to think about your best employees, both current and past. What character traits made them successful as an employee? Think about the adjectives and the descriptors that come to mind.

Also understanding how people are different based on personality types is really helpful. What is your personality type? Find out Here

Let me help you with a shortlist of what I’ve found are critical traits, but it’s not a complete list.

  • Work ethic
  • Communication skills
  • Confidence
  • Teamwork
  • Goal orientated
  • Personable and Engaging (Likely to connected well with prospects and customers)
  • Strong self-image and confident
  • Persistent in the face of apparent adversity
  • Self Starter
  • Thick-skinned and rejection tolerant
  • Self-accountable for own failures or mistakes
  • Organized and manages time effectively
  • Willingness to learn and grow
  • Challenge themselves, self-improvers
  • Coachable and committed to continuous improvement
  • Level headed and not overly optimistic

What are these? Things that you cannot teach or train people on. These are personality traits or competencies that they either have or don’t have. If you want them, you must hire people who possess them. Don’t ever fool yourself to believe you can train someone to have a strong work ethic for example.

Now once you’ve identified the list of characteristics from your best employees you need a second list.

Close those eyes again and think about your worst employees. The ones that have failed, caused problems or continually disappointed you. Write down a list of what made them such a struggle.

  • Gossip
  • Disorganized
  • Lazy
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Not motivated to achieve
  • Lack of integrity/honesty

Now from this exercise, you have a standard for which you will or will not hire or promote. This is critical! Determine your standard and abide by it with every hiring decision.

Moving to the next step in this process, it is time to determine the traits that are critical must-haves to you. These may vary from manager to manager or for different job descriptions. So think about the standards required specifically for each role. A manager position may have a different set of character traits than someone in accounting, for example. Let’s nail down the standards even more.

Under the positive character traits, choose the ones that are MUST Haves.

Then anything left over from your list will be Nice to Haves

Don’t make your standards unobtainable with too many “Must Haves.”

Then you have your NO GOs.

The negative traits you listed are now your “NO GOs.” When you are recruiting or interviewing someone and you detect any of these “NO GO” traits…STOP! Do not go forward with further considering them. EVER!!!

Learn from my mistakes. My optimism often talked me into hiring certain individuals that I believed I could live with, or that they could overcome some of these negative tenancies. Nope. Never worked and never will. Don’t do it. Don’t ever believe you can change what their maker baked into them. You might as well tell them to change the color of their eyes. It can’t happen, and you can’t make them.

These must become your standards for hiring. Live and abide by these, and you will, in short order, experience a huge improvement in your culture, work-life balance, productivity, and turnover.

Notice I did not list experience in this part. In my opinion, the experience is a nice to have.

I’d much rather take the right personality fit and train them for my company’s needs. Yes, the experience can be great, but it should not be the most important factor in hiring your next person. Sure, some positions will require a certain amount of experience. The point I want you to take away is, make experience secondary in the selection process, Choose the right human first and then use the experience as a secondary deciding factor.

 When you hire an employee, don’t underestimate the importance of hiring someone with whom you enjoy working.

Some reading this will question, how do I determine these positive or negative traits? The answer is in your interview technique and personality assessments.

You must use a behavioral-based interview approach that will uncover what you are looking for in prospective new hires and internal promotees. If you are unsure of those types of questions look like, check out this article on Behavioral Based Interviewing FAQs. You can also contact me through my website, and I will be happy to discuss behavioral-based interviews with you and send you some valuable tools.

Be very honest with yourself about your personality and motivations. A common mistake that many managers make is that they want to hire a self-directed individual, a problem-solver, and a motivator who has a dominant nature. The truth is, more times than not, a domineering behavior style may actually be better served by a more passive, easy-going, organized type of individual who takes direction well, does not rock the boat, and is more task-oriented than leadership-oriented.

What are some of the tools I can use?

There are many available tests and surveys that show such things as behavior or personality styles, motivations, and general intelligence, which you can use as part of the initial or pre-screening if permitted under the laws in which you operate. I utilize the DISC assessment as part of my training and coaching practice. I’ve used the DISC tool for close to 20 years. If you want more information on how to deliver and read a DISC profile contact me here for more information and a free 45-page DISC assessment for yourself.

DISC Profile

Before you test your prospective new employee for behavior and personality style, it’s a good idea to test yourself first to find out your own style. Identify which type of style meshes best with your own style. More Information

IMPORTANT: Your Employee should complement your leadership style, but not be a mirror image of yourself. Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and hire those who fill the voids you have, without duplicating your own strengths.


You are now ready to meet the selected candidates from those who responded to your recruiting efforts. Regardless of the position involved, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. You should not recruit any person whom you would find offensive, regardless of the person’s experience and skills. Remember, your employees reflect on your reputation. It is essential that the applicant fits your organization’s culture. I can help.