Why I Hire for ATTITUDE, not skill

Are you laser-focused on an applicant’s skill set when selecting your employees? If so, you most likely aren’t doing your business any favours.

I’ve long been a proponent of hiring for attitude and training for skill. You see, attitude affects performance. Even the highest of the high achievers will fail, I believe, if their attitude stinks.

Even in the most technical jobs, skills are only half the package and it’s particularly true in real estate.

Skills can be taught, but personality and temperament have a huge effect on how someone will fit into your team and perform for your clients or customers.

Bad hiring decisions can have a big impact on your business. According to a report in Dynamic Business, the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) estimates staff turnover costs businesses up to $20 billion a year in Australia, with as much as 80 per cent of staff turnover due to bad hiring decisions.

And in the book, Hiring for Attitude, written by Mark Murphy, the CEO of leadership research and training provider Leadership IQ, a lack of proper attitude – not skills – is noted as the primary contributor to weak performance and employee turnover.

According to his research of 20,000 new hires, 46 per cent of them failed within 18 months. Significantly, when new hires failed, 89 per cent of the time it was because of attitude problems and only 11 per cent of the time due to lack of skill.

The attitude issues that sounded the death knell for these hires included an inability to be coached, a lack of emotional intelligence, temperament and motivation.

In real estate, I have always hired people based on attitude rather than technical skills or industry experience, putting a strong emphasis on character and also hiring people who see real estate as a genuine career.

I believe great team members come down to the right attitude and the right training. We work with individuals with ‘soft’ skills like enthusiasm, work ethic and interpersonal skills, and give them the technical skills and support they need to succeed in the industry.

Real estate agents in particular carry huge responsibilities. They help clients find a new house, sell their property or build their investment portfolio. Essentially, they deal with large sums of money and major life decisions that have the potential to make or break people.

With such weighty responsibilities, it’s crucial to hire individuals who are right for the job. They should be honest, trustworthy, have the ability to be straightforward with clients, goal-orientated, have a natural flair for marketing and be a people person. We also need to ensure that we don’t hold on to people with the wrong attitude as they can rapidly affect a cohesive team culture. 

Clients want to be comfortable with and have a good connection with their agent. Someone who is friendly and authentic, a good networker and can connect with others will go far in real estate.

If you’re looking at attitudes, you are looking at people who are flexible, think innovatively, have strong interpersonal skills, show initiative, take into account feedback, can cope with failure, collaborate with team mates and bring energy to all they do.

Technical skills aren’t that important if the employee has the wrong personality for the job, lacks emotional intelligence, isn’t open to improving or can’t get along with their co-workers.

If you’re hiring someone who is going to be directly interacting with your clients or customers on a routine basis, consider following the tried and true mantra and ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’.