The Overlooked Skill

If you’re in a position of leadership, you often wonder about certain questions.

How’s the company doing? Are we going in the right direction? What difference are we making in the world?

But there’s another question that weighs heavy on the hearts of leaders…

Frustrated Man

Image by Zach Klein

Who should I hire? What traits should a prospective employee have?

The question is never an easy one to answer. Every position requires a different set of skills.

One position may require knowledge of computer coding. Another may require the employee to know how to effectively manage a core team. Still another may require exquisite customer service skills.

It may seem overwhelming searching for someone with the right skill set. And it can be.

And yet the skill set is not the most important thing a prospective employee must have.

The most important thing you should look for in an employee is actually a trait.

What could this trait be? Let me share a story with you before I tell you the trait.

Imagine a young man named Jim. He’s in his early 20’s. He comes in with a list of accomplishments a mile long. His sales skills are stellar. He can make sales like no one else. You want to hire him right then and there.

But there’s also a trail of former companies he’s worked for.

The former employers isn’t necessarily negative. He may have been able to leap in pay by going from company to company.

So you go ahead and hire him anyways.

You feel you made the right decision when you see his sales soar. They’re almost breaking records.

Until you start getting complaints from coworkers. He’s making their jobs miserable.

While his sales numbers are rising, others have their numbers drop. Customer complaints are up due to lies. Nerves are shot.

There’s a major decline in morale. And it looks like Jim is cause of the morale decline.

Can you see what is missing? Jim’s not a team player. He can’t get along with others. He fibs to customers.

The trait that has been overlooked for far too long is character.

If a team member lacks character, issues will arise.

While his sales may be up, your team’s productivity may drop, people become discouragement, they become resentful of the lack of respect shown.

This causes a drop in overall sales. All because a bad apple got into the workplace.

Sometimes it’s not worth it to have a high performer on your team that cannot get along with others.

Sales, customer service, technical knowledge, and more can easily be taught to a new employee. Changing the character of a person takes much more work.

When hiring new team members, be sure you’re looking for the overlooked trait. The trait of a good character.

Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.
— Anthony Bourdain

Question: How would you do with an employee who wasn’t a team player? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.



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