And if these same hiring managers haven't learned that clarifying expectations upfront is the #1 key to attracting, assessing, motivating and managing people, they shouldn't be managers either.

Let me offer proof and a simple solution.

Around mid-2015 I was contacted by Harvard professor Todd Rose who was writing (now published) The End of Average. In the book Rose scientifically proves that when it comes to exceptional performance the context of work matters as much as the ability to do the work. In this case context refers to the work itself, the culture of the company, the pace of the organization and the hiring manager's style of dealing with subordinates.

Professor Rose asked me how I developed Performance-based Hiring since it seemed to him to capture most of his findings about what drives on-the-job performance. I told him I conducted lots of trial and error experiments over a twenty-year period and incorporated the big findings in Hire With Your Head, The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired and in my Performance-based Interviewing course.

Here's a quick review of the findings, which upon review seem like commonsense. What's odd is that when it comes to hiring people we often disregard commonsense.

  • You need a great job to hire a great person. A great job is not a laundry list of skills, experiences and "must-have" personality traits. A great job is a series of tasks and challenges the person taking the jobs finds more satisfying than the compensation being earned.
  • The quality of the interview matters. The best people consider the quality of the interview as representative of the quality of the company, job and hiring manager. The Performance-based Interview I advocate focuses on the context of the job as much as the candidate's raw talent to ensure a match on ability, fit and motivation.
  • You need to provide the person a 30% increase. None of this is compensation, though. A career move consists of a bigger job with more impact, a job that offers the opportunity to grow faster and a richer mix of more satisfying work. These factors need to total about 30% to ensure you're hiring a person motivated to do the work, not just to get more money.
  • You can't negotiate the terms of an offer before the person knows about the job. When a job represents a true career move, the typical company name, job title, location and compensation factors don't matter as much. That's why you need to begin each contact with an exploratory warm-up. Filtering on skills, compensation, title and location prevents this type of conversation from even taking place.
  • The best people have different skills and experiences. That's what makes them the best people. Since we promote people we know based on their past performance, we should hire people from the outside the same way. It shouldn't come as a surprise that if the person can do the work and sees the work as a career move, the person will have all of the skills, experiences and motivation necessary to succeed.
  • You need a great recruiter to make the career case. Hiring the strongest talent is not a transaction, especially when it comes to passive candidates. It takes hours spread over weeks for a top person to fully understand all of the factors involved in a career move. Recruiters need to persist and not let a person say "no" until the information is fully understood.
  • You need a fully engaged hiring manager. The best people want to work for strong managers. Knowing the job, conducting an in-depth Performance-based Interview, active listening and full engagement in the process are the prerequisites for hiring managers who want to hire stronger talent.
  • Pre-screening assessments and traditional skills-laden job descriptions put a ceiling on the quality level of people hired. If the best people, including diverse candidates, have a different mix of skills and experiences and are looking for a career move, not a lateral transfer, a company won't be seeing the best people.
  • You need a strategy designed to maximize quality of hire. In the Catch-22 video above I contend that too many companies were more focused on filling seats with the best people who applied or responded to an email rather than hiring the best people available. When maximizing quality of hire is the strategy, all of the issues noted above become part of the fabric of every single hiring decision.

All you need to do to validate these ideas is to try a few out for yourself. You'll soon discover that when it comes to hiring, commonsense is not that common. More important hiring mangers will discover that being a great hiring manager starts by recruiting great people.