How to Avoid Putting a Lion in the Desert Previous item Cisco’s Intercloud... Next item There is No Such Thing as...

In my previous post, I wrote about how no animal is a “bad” animal unless it is stuck in the wrong environment. Put a lion in a desert, and it won’t thrive. Put a baseball player, complete with bat and spikes, on an ice hockey team, and he won’t thrive.

An example from one of my former gigs was a shift in some of our sales positions. Our account managers were very customer-focused to the point of being more of a concierge. It was less about selling and more about recommending, and there was a lot of contact with middle-level managers at customer companies. This person had to be very tactical, quick to respond, able to follow up on details and make sure that bad things didn’t happen in the process of getting products, gear and solutions procured for the customer. The position evolved with the evolution of technology. As more value-added services, such as managed services, cloud offerings, etc., came front and center, we needed to take another look at this position. The sales folks needed to be able to sell different things in a different way, and not every person was designed for this new environment. When it wasn’t their strength – they were a lion in the desert – it was a recipe for disaster.

So, how do you find out if someone is going to work? As I mentioned in my last post, you have to define the environment you have for a functional role and identify the pervasive successful brain profile for that role in your company. Remember this: There is no “one-size fits all” solution. If someone comes in with a sales profile system that is designed to fit anywhere, you need to say, “Get out.” Even though they may be right in some cases, you need to define your functional role in your company. You need to find out what the pervasive successful brain profile is for your environment. Profile the best people you have and the worst people you have.

You will notice that 80 percent or more of them have a very similar profile.  In terms of the example above, our needs changed. We were looking for a persistently persuasive fast-paced person with a really strong appreciation of detail, but not super detailed. That was different from the previous model, which was friendly, outgoing and detailed-oriented. The sales person didn’t change. The environment changed.

So, you need to understand the type of person you need in that environment to make sure that he or she thrives in it. You may have that person already, but in a different place. Again, remember there is no one-size fits all solution. You may have two account managers, but one is selling to the federal government while the other is selling to the private enterprise. Different models, different needs, different sales cycles – a different animal is needed in each of these environments.

My preferred way of finding out the best brain profile for a specific functional role is to survey each person to show how closely his or her behavioral profile matches the model I have developed for success. Then – and only then – do I bring someone in for an interview and ask specific questions to validate what I found. The behavioral profile is only one big slice of the pizza.

You still have to look at whether they have the right experience and understand that profiles don’t measure pathological behavior, measure hygiene, intelligence or passion or desire for your industry. You could have a behavioral model that is an exact match, but if the position does not excite him or her – it doesn’t melt their butter, so to speak – you are done.

The system I use has 60 questions, only takes 7-9 minutes to complete and is the most accurate I have found. It also has the largest norming base available – 4 million+ people – that is constantly updated. By comparison, you will find that most organizations that offer profiling systems have cobbled theirs together from research conducted by graduate students at a college or university. Because the research was funded with a federal grant, the university has to give it to them. They clean it up, put their name on it and measure the same four cornerstones. The question becomes, “How accurate is this?”

With the solution I use, I have found that I can lower my turnover up to 40 percent. It helps me to maximize the hiring process, make it more efficient and eliminate wasted interview and meet-and-greet cycles by knowing what I am getting. If I see that someone is only a 22-percent match, I know he or she is not a viable candidate. Seventy-five percent match? Now we are talking. I then validate the candidate has the right experience and is intelligent and have him or her complete an application.

Knowing what you need in your environment – desert or rainforest – is imperative to picking the right animal to survive and thrive not only for the success of the animal, but also for the success of the company. A bonus is that the right fit also means your retention rate goes up because your animal isn’t starving to death, is finding the right prey and making the right “kills.”