When we first began screening candidates, the biggest shock for me was the realization of that extremely few people had a clear idea of how exactly they contributed to the organization they were working for.
Just having a job and a title, and being able to do the activities associated with it does not necessarily mean that you get a result. Very many people are concerned about the name on their business card and want to be vice-presidents, project leaders and senior executives of one area or another, but at the end of the day, their company does not progress because of that.
There are, however, people who are more interested in the final result. They do not care that much about their official title, are willing to do pretty much anything as long as it brings about results, and when we look into the business world at the people that business owners and executives are satisfied with, their common denominator is that they bring something to the table. They actually produce something – they make a difference. They know what they are trying to achieve.
If we make a comparison to football, you seldom see a forward player who does not know that the result of his job is to help organize scoring goals. He either shoots them himself or passes the ball to someone who can. The midfielder’s main duty is to transport the ball from his defending lines into the enemy territory in such a way that it becomes possible to score. The defender’s main duty is to make sure not to let the other team produce goals on them. And the goalkeeper’s duty is very clear: to stop any incoming balls.
As soon as you figure out what the valuable contribution of a job is, you can begin measuring how much of it occurred and in what time. If a person with a job cannot really name what he is supposed to produce and does not know what value it has, he definitely cannot measure what he is doing. It does not necessarily mean that this person does not help – but it means that whatever help this person produces depends on someone else’s understanding of what the end result should be. It is important to be able to be someone, but unless you know what the result of your job is, just being a director would not help you much. This whole concept was something I came across in 1994 and it changed everything in how I looked at hiring.
Up until that point, we specialized in testing personality – the ‘beingness’ of a person, but from that moment on, we focused on productivity.
Production and performance were such key elements to our success, we wanted the name of our company to reflect that – thus we chose the name ‘Performia’.
When Performia went online in 1999, we got the idea that we should train our clients so they could manage the entire process themselves. Our clients were really happy – all the knowledge they gained in about a week of training was of amazing value to them. All of a sudden they could evaluate people much more accurately and the skill to be able to assess who you are dealing with in business was not just nice, but completely vital. Most people who are currently struggling with their businesses would probably agree that most of their trouble started when they hooked up with a wrong person. Such a hard time is normally preceded by meeting someone who appeared very nice, but was not at all what you expected.
People can cause trouble in many different styles and ways. Those who come and openly do evil and destructive acts we often judge to be the worst. However, when you deal with people like that, you can see pretty quickly that your cooperation is going nowhere and can take preventative measures before any real damage is done.
In actuality, the most destructive acts are done by people who come into your business and seem to be fine. They say all the right things and have a nice attitude, and can sometimes be extremely deceiving with their social veneer. In reality they might be doing anything from stealing, ruining, destroying or attacking your business, all in a subtle, subversive manner. That can sometimes take years to uncover. If you discover it too late, it might be too late – by that time you might have already lost a critical client or even the whole company. Irreparable damage could have been done, so who you work with and who you select is not an unimportant question.
The purpose of Performia is to help business have the knowledge and tools needed to quickly evaluate people they work with in order to optimize productivity. That means helping clients to be able to detect people who will be of help to their business and those who might be destructive. The real problem is not that you will never find out – when someone is really bad, you will ordinarily find out in the end. But the question is, do you want it to go that far, or would you like to know even before you hire them? Our purpose is to arm you with the knowledge and tools you can use to predict the future.
Of course, anyone could say that no test could ever be completely flawless. That is true; you cannot be absolutely sure. You could be dealing with a person who had been tremendously successful at his previous job, but now decided to switch careers and does not do well at all for some reason.
Things can happen in an individual’s life that can make him go from being highly functional to dysfunctional. But the cost of failed hiring is not measured in money you paid to the person you lost. Of course, having to pay a few salaries to a person you had to let go in the end could hurt, but it is not the most destructive thing that can happen. How much can a person cost you if he makes a stupid mistake that makes your clients turn away from you? We could be talking millions here! The problem with hiring is that a mistake can cost you from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to almost an unlimited amount. It could also result in bankruptcy.
To give you an example, a company could have been doing fine for years but suddenly closes down. Upon closer inspection you discover that they received a new manager about a year ago. Yes, you can blame the market, the government and everybody else, but if the company had been there for decades and suddenly went down after getting a new manager, the cause is pretty obvious.
We encourage you to look more, try this out and see for yourself. For any information on how you can incorporate these tools and methods in your existing structure, please contact the Performia team.
I hope this has been of value and I welcome your feedback.