“He’s wrong for the role. I know he can technically do the job. But, while I can’t put my finger on it - I just know he isn’t the right person.”

Assessing talent is a complex challenge. If you’ve ever hired or managed people, I’m sure you’ve thought:

Why is defining the right person for the job so tough?

The answer is…

Because Skills & Experience Aren’t Enough

In theory, we should be able to list the skills and experience needed for a job and find the right person. But, that’s not how we actually hire. After years in HR and recruiting, I’ve learned candidates get hired on three factors - AND in this order:

  1. Personality - communication style on the job.
  2. Aptitude - ability to do the job the company’s way.
  3. Experience - skills and knowledge needed to execute the work.

Why? First, you must work with this person all day long. If you can’t tolerate a personality type, your own happiness at work will diminish. Then, even if you like the person, if the ability to do the job in the style the company wants it done isn’t there, it will be frustrating to you and your co-workers. All of us can think of a time when a person had the skills and experience, but was such a poor fit in personality and aptitude, it caused a loss in productivity. Or, even worse, caused good employees to leave.

Ever heard someone referred to as, “not a good cultural fit” for the organization? That’s code for a personality and aptitude mismatch.

Solution: Use Personas To Define The Candidate You Need

After studying this for years, I realized the problem lies in the need for a common language when it comes to talent. If we could pinpoint the unique combination of personality and aptitude needed for a particular job, we could help managers, employees, and recruiters get on the same page. As a result, my company created, The Career Decoder - a tool that defines the eight most common workplace personas as follows:

  • Educator
  • Researcher
  • Mentor
  • Optimizer
  • Warrior
  • Supeconnector
  • Builder
  • Visionary

It starts with a simple online quiz that enables individuals to evaluate their personas. While each of us likely have all of the eight personas as part of our professional DNA, we usually tend to gravitate towards three or four top personas. Why? Our unique combinations of personality and aptitude result in us feeling more satisfied when doing certain workplace activities. When we like what we’re doing and are leveraging our top personas, we feel more successful at work. Additionally, when we know our personas are recognized and appreciated within the organization, we’re more confident in our contribution and feel more satisfied with our relationship with our employer. In short, when the right personas are the in the right jobs, everyone wins!

Then, once we know our own personas, we can use this to better understand what personas we need for our teams to succeed.

Example: He Was A Visionary In A Optimizer’s Role

Years ago, a worked with a manager who hired a young man he referred to as a, “whiz kid.” He met him at a networking event and was immediately impressed by his grasp of our industry and customer base. His top persona was, “visionary.” The manager was certain this guy was going to join the team and turn things around. The department was having trouble delivering to customers. The boss assumed this young man’s vision and enthusiasm would fix things. He was wrong. Within two months, it was clear the whiz kid was full of ideas - and could articulate them, but he couldn’t put them into practice. In fact, he was terrible with organization, details, and project management. The job really called for an, “optimizer.” Sadly, he couldn’t have been further from one. He was gone a month later, but not without wreaking havoc on the team and us losing two key employees. If the manager had understood and used the personas above to map out the strengths needed in this job, he could have saved the department a lot of frustration.

HINT: The Best Companies Use All 8 Personas Wisely

In future articles, I will share examples of how leveraging the power of all eight personas help companies perform better. Companies that don’t proactively incorporate these personas across their business model are at risk. The result can be employee disengagement, group-think, bro cultures, and other negative results of unbalanced combination of personas on your team.

P.S. - Got questions you’d like me to answer about personas? Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Published on: Jul 12, 2015