Another either-or question answered

Should you hire based on aptitude (knowledge, skills, and abilities) or on attitude (“soft” skills, cultural fit)?

It seems like the pendulum has swung from “hard skills” to “soft skills” and back to the sensible middle, which is: both matter!  Without technical know-how, a ready smile and eagerness to pitch in to help teammates still won’t make a winning hire.  But a brilliant mind that cannot or will not integrate with the culture or team, is also bound to fail.

The solution to this “either-or” dilemma is what the solution has always been: Define your mission and vision.  Establish goals and objectives linked to them, and flow them down. Conduct job analyses linked to those to determine what is really necessary to execute the job excellently.  Evaluate potential hires against those competencies and KSAs – which naturally should include a mixture of “hard” and “soft” skills.  Track performance according to these and make adjustments as needed.

Also, keep in mind those scary statistics – that nearly 90% of failed hires derailed due to lack of “soft” skills – and don’t just provide training and development on the “hard” skills.  Further, from a management perspective, objective performance is easier to confront before it becomes problematic, but it is the “soft” skills that people are going to need more coaching on. Ensure that managers understand that “soft” competencies are also job-critical, and they need to be able to confidently address performance problems in these areas.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do your hiring and performance management processes reflect these trends?