Hire For Attitude
Mark Murphy is the author Hiring for Attitude, as well as the bestsellersHundred Percenters and HARD Goals. The founder and CEO ofLeadership IQ, a top-rated provider of cutting-edge research and leadership training, Mark has personally provided guidance to more than 100,000 leaders from virtually every industry and half the Fortune 500. His public leadership seminars, custom corporate training, and online training programs have yielded remarkable results for companies including Microsoft, IBM, GE, MasterCard, Merck, AstraZeneca, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Johns Hopkins.
In this interview, Mark talks about why so many new hires fail so quickly, why soft skills are so important now, how the hiring landscape is changing, and more.
Why do so many fail within the first 18 months of taking a job?
When our research tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months. But even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.
Are technical and soft skills less important than attitude? Why?
It’s not that technical skills aren’t important, but they’re much easier to assess (that’s why attitude, not skills, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure). Virtually every job (from neurosurgeon to engineer to cashier) has tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don’t assess is attitude; whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth.
Soft skills are the capabilities that attitude can enhance or undermine. For example, a newly hired executive may have the intelligence, business experience and financial acumen to fit well in a new role. But if that same executive has an authoritarian, hard-driving style, and they’re being hired into a social culture where happiness and camaraderie are paramount, that combination is unlikely to work. Additionally, many training programs have demonstrated success with increasing and improving skills—especially on the technical side. But these same programs are notoriously weak when it comes to creating attitudinal change. As Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO used to say, “we can change skill levels through training, but we can’t change attitude.” Read the complete Forbes blog interview.