A Super Simple Way to Predict On-the-Job Performance

Quality of hire is easy to predict. All you need to do is look at the quality of the company's hiring process.

Sometimes things are easier than they seem. Predicting job performance is one of those things. The 2X2 matrix shown is proof. In just 50 words it describes what any company, hiring manager or small business can do to make better hiring decisions and avoid making bad ones.

It starts by benchmarking how the best people you've hired actually got hired. These are the people in the upper right quadrant - those who are highly competent or can learn quickly and are also highly motivated to do the actual work required. Of utmost importance is recognition that motivation to get the job is NOT the same as motivation to do the job. Getting this part wrong is the fundamental difference between hiring a top person and a not-so-top person.

Tier 1: Great hires.

These are people who are both very competent and highly motivated. They are considered outstanding because they produce more high quality work on a more consistent basis. In addition, they do more of the right stuff without being told or requiring much direction.

People like this are hired when they see the job as a true career move combined with an equitable compensation package. In this case a career move needs to offer a minimum 30% non-monetary increase. This is the difference between the person's current career trajectory and the potential one offered by the new job. This 30% is the collective sum of a bigger job combined with more satisfying work, more impactful work and faster growth. While it takes extra time to prove this, few hiring managers are willing to make the investment in time despite the obvious advantages.

Tier 2: Could have been a great hire, if only.

While these people are fully competent they're not consistently motivated to do the required work for one reason or another. As part of this they rarely take the initiative to do more than required. These are the people who need extra pushing and direction to meet minimum requirements.

Hiring good people who under perform is a very common problem. Not only is it totally predictable; it's also totally avoidable. Two problems are the typical cause. One is an emphasis on short-term non-job related criteria when the offer was made and accepted. The other is a lack of fit in some way with either the job or the manager.

On the "bad fit" side it could be that the person is not motivated to do the work since it wasn't fully clarified upfront or it's not very inspiring work. Sometimes good people don't get along with their manager and this friction causes dissatisfaction and turnover. Sometimes these people don't fit with the culture or the team. Regardless of the cause, lack of fit is usually the problem when otherwise talented people fall short of expectations.

The solution starts by clarifying job expectations upfront, fully understanding what motivates these people to perform at peak levels and making sure the fit factors are considered before an offer is considered.

Tier 3: Why did we hire this person?

There is no question that people who are neither competent nor motivated are bad hires. The cause is obvious: Usually the process was rushed and the assessment was based on a very narrow set of skill-based criteria. In many cases the people hired under these hectic conditions are those who make the best presentations, not the people who are the best performers. The problem is worsened since the candidate accepted the offer for short-term reasons based on compensation and which company could move the fastest.

Tier 4: Motivated to do things you don't want done.

Highly motivated but misdirected people are the worst of all hires. They proactively do things you don't want done including demotivating others. Avoid these hires at all costs! Typically these people are hired when the manager is desperate and the people chosen have lots of enthusiasm and make great presentations. This is a sure recipe for making bad hiring decisions.

Hiring Tier 1 top performing people on a consistent basis is pretty straightforward. It starts by understanding this simple truth: Whether you're the hiring manager, recruiter or prospect, don't make long-term decisions using short-term information. While implementing this simple truth is not simple, it is the truth that too many recruiters, hiring managers and candidates consistently ignore.