Hire Only Fully Formed Adults: How Soft Skills Improve the Bottom Line

By Ilya Zeldin, founder/CEO of 2gn?.me ("To know me")

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Under the direction of Reed Hastings and Patty McCord, Netflix prospered with groundbreaking HR policies, which Patty wrote about in How Netflix Reinvented HR (Harvard Business Review, December 2014). The first of five basic precepts that drove Netflix’s HR policies is “Hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults.”

Mrs. McCord was the Chief Talent Officer for Netflix at the time. She believes the majority of workers will try to do the right thing and act in the company’s best interests when making business decisions.

She goes on to say that “Most companies spend endless time and money writing and enforcing HR policies to deal with problems the other 3% might cause.” And Mrs. McCord offers a solution:

Don’t hire people that will cause you most problems.

The Netlix approach became the foundation for our focus on soft skills. Where Hastings and McCord identified nine skills with specific dimensions (in this brilliant Netflix culture deck), we developed situation-based questions that “measure” each dimension, and applied our as-a-service technology design.

There are multiple firms that offer services to help you get a good fix on employee “fit” and help determine whom to interview. The resulting people metrics provide a handle on “high potential” candidates that have the sort of skills that you value. You narrow your pool to these people, then look at résumés.

Numbers Speak for Themselves

According to data gathered by Gallup, companies with high employee engagement were 22% more profitable, have 25% to 65% lower turnover, and 37% lower absenteeism. High employee engagement leads to more successful and more profitable businesses.

Netflix showed how to hire for success with their policies. And a great thing about technology is that even small businesses can now take advantage of the best assessment-based hiring practices. Most assessment service providers offer simple templates you can adapt to your own culture, and work with you to develop a custom one. 

If you only hire fully formed adults, your employee engagement will improve. And so will your bottom line.

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