What If You Could Clone Your Best Employees?

Have you ever hired what you were sure was the perfect person for a job—only to have that new employee turn into a mediocre or subpar performer? Often when I’m creating a profile for a job search assignment, a client will describe their ideal candidate in terms of the best-performing person in their organization with the same title. For instance, for a sales manager position, they only want to interview someone with previous experience as a sales manager in the company’s industry niche, with the “right” network in place, and an established list of contacts in a specific territory–someone who can “hit the ground running.” In other words, they believe that if they can hire someone who is as similar as possible to their most successful sales manager, they will mitigate their risks of a bad hire. Intuitively, this is an appealing strategy, but the list of criteria leaves out what is sometimes the most important criterion for success, and that is talent. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization conducted a multi-decade study involving over a million employees and found that talent, rather than skills or experience, was by far the best predictor of success. The personalities of successful people and the methodologies they use to reach their goals and objectives vary significantly, but what all successful people have is the determination to achieve. This is why an introvert with a low-key approach can be just as successful as an extroverted hard driver. Unfortunately, stereotypes are often self-fulfilling prophecies. The bias for extroverted, expressive sales people is perpetuated and institutionalized by personality assessments, which reflect the...