Hire the Person, Train the Skill


by Mike Foote, Educational Coordinator, WEL Support Services

I recently had a conversation with someone about hiring.  He said he had spoken to Tom Light about hiring someone for who they are and the principles they stand for, not for the skills they bring to the job.  This person said that this was a completely new concept, as I believe it might be for a number of you, which is why more discussion on this topic is warranted.


Why would you hire someone for a position regardless of their skills?  One needs to take a look not just at the job duties of the position to be filled, but the overall role that person will ultimately play in your organization.  Will this person need to interact with customers?  Will this person need such (perhaps) innate abilities as intuition, “thinking on one’s feet,” and thinking “outside the box?”  And what about this person’s role as a leader, organizer, marketer, and businessperson?  It quickly becomes clear that hiring for a specific job duty is less important than hiring for the big picture.


Many of you who may be reading this post are members of the property damage restoration industry.  Who would you want to hire to go into someone’s home to clean after a fire or water damage? 


One of the restoration contractors I teach CE classes for relates it this way:  “None of our customers ever tell us, ‘Your guys suck water better than anybody else’ or ‘Your company dries out a house faster than anyone out there.’  We hear comments like, ’Your technicians were so nice’ and ‘Your people treated our things with respect.’”


Certainly one familiar with home construction, plumbing, carpentry, or other building or contracting trade would be very useful in understanding the tools and techniques involved.  But how important also is the relationship the technician makes with the homeowner?  the adjuster?  the other employees on the job?  Being able to effectively communicate, instill comfort and confidence, delegate tasks, and lead a crew are all as important as the knowledge of the mitigation to be done.  Even those in the aforementioned trades will need some training in the specific and latest tools and techniques of property damage mitigation.  But leadership, organization, confidence, compassion and communication are much more difficult to teach.


Hiring someone for these traits and then teaching them what they need to know for the business results in an employee who, once comfortable with the tasks, gives their  employer the confidence his or her company will be well represented to the people who matter most – your customers.

Have an idea for a blog post?  Send us an email at info@whereeaglesland.com and let us know!