A “hire for attitude, train for aptitude” strategy has merit and works for certain organizations. However, it requires changes (potentially significant ones) to a company’s infrastructure, process and organizational design, and, above all, an increase in a company’s training budget.
Interestingly enough, it also requires a change in attitude on the part of the human resources and training departments.
The strategy requires:
- Training, training, and more training: The basic principle is hiring employees who don’t necessarily have all the needed skills. And not just formal delivery methods but OTJ, informal learning, social learning, etc. In other words, getting ready to produce substantial amounts of work, meaning more analysis, more design, more internal employees, more vendors, and an LMS if you don’t have one already. Additionally, HR and T&D departments have to shift their focus (and budget dollars) on skills training, and potentially away from things like engagement strategies or emotional intelligence training (this last one should be okay since hiring for EI is another principle of the “hire for attitude” strategy).
- Addressing the potential lack of skills: A formal and comprehensive mentoring program needs to be in place.
- Making sure a new employee’s onboarding experience is top-notch: No matter how great their attitude is, do not overwhelm them.
- Document everything: Processes, templates, instructions, etc. These form the basis for the skills training. There can be nothing left in someone’s head only.
- Providing performance support: Employees who don’t have the needed skills, need easy access to information which may assist them in their daily tasks.
- Revising job descriptions: Recruiting, interviewing and hiring strategy and processes need some work, too.
- Training managers and those involved in recruiting on the new process.
- Showing restraint: You can’t take this strategy too far (they have to have some required skills).
Finally, if hiring for attitude, it requires knowing what the correct attitude for the position is. This is a whole different kind of competency assessment.
All of the above requires budget dollars (maybe significant amounts), so a cost-benefit / ROI analysis is a good idea.
Robert Bilotti is Managing Director of Novita Training.