I theorized that much of that decline isn’t so much a result of fewer interesting jobs, as it is the result of higher levels of emphasis upon individualism, and an increased focus on self-gratification...rather than on earning respect through contributions to something greater than oneself.
If you recall, I proposed two possible answers to the above problems: (1) Building a culture of standards, and (2) Having recruiters and managers of character.
Most recently, I focused on the importance of building a culture of standards and expectations, which will in turn attract the brightest and best candidates. Today, I'll tackle the importance of having recruiters and managers of strong character.
I came across an insightful article by Peter Weddle that describes the vital importance of strong character, specifically with regard to recruiters. Weddle describes having seen the latest George Clooney movie that he feels serves as...
"an appropriate metaphor for post-bubble America... Called Up in the Air, it tells the story of a human resource professional who works for what might best be described as a LOO-a Lay Off Outsourcing firm. Clooney travels 10 million miles by plane doing the dirty work of firing employees companies no longer want or can afford." (Weddle)
Without giving too much a way (I've seen it too), I can tell you that the storyline is subtly wrapped around the importance of character.
By the end of the movie, Clooney has succeeded in teaching a tech-savvy young go-getter "a thing or two about the human side of their work. More importantly, he personifies a value we often overlook in our efforts to improve performance: character matters most. Especially in recruiting." (Weddle)
Do you recall the definition of culture I described in the last blog... "a specific set of beliefs and behaviors built on those beliefs?" This is very similar to Weddle's discussion of the definition of character:
"The dictionary defines character as 'The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.' While that may be accurate, I think it's much too neutral. To me, character has a decidedly positive overtone. It is the combination of qualities or features that represent the best of a person or group.
The irony, of course, is that we spend countless hours attending recruitment conferences and training programs that teach us the best practices in our field, and that effort leaves us little or no time to focus on character. Yet, character is the secret sauce of best practices. The best practices work best in the hands of recruiters who are at their best as people. Implement the best practices with a recruiter whose character is deficient, and they may fill their reqs, but they will never recruit the best talent."
Why? Because character operates like a magnet. It attracts those who have it and repels those who don't. And the best talent are almost always people of character. They not only perform at their peak, they help others do so, as well. Or to put it another way, they focus on both doing things right and doing the right things.
The best talent have their pick of employers, and not surprisingly, they want to work with the best of their peers. While they may know a colleague or two in any given organization, they will often judge the character of its overall workforce by the character of its recruiters. A recruiter without character, therefore, can be an expert in social networking; they can make Twitter sing, they can write job postings even the most passive job seekers will read, but they cannot recruit top talent. Their nature actually pushes them away.
Happily, the converse is also true. Recruiters of character have a powerful advantage in the War for the Best Talent. They bring in top performers because they are top performers themselves, and because they have personal attributes that resonate with those individuals. They transform the recruiting experience from a transaction between strangers to an interaction between those who share a commitment to being their best."
I couldn't agree more. Combining managers of character with companies of standards will help you greatly improve the level of job satisfaction on your team.
Editor's Note: This article was written by Dr. David Mashburn. Dave is a Clinical and Consulting Psychologist, Partner at Tidemark, Inc. and a regular contributor to WorkPuzzle. Comments or questions are welcome. If you're an email subscriber, reply to this WorkPuzzle email. If you read the blog directly from the web, you can click the "comments" link below.