Focus on Challenging and Growing People


New recruit starting work

We frequently assume that if we hire someone with a great resume and a strong background of industry and competitor experience, we’ve found a gem.

We hope that this person will bring to the organization a breadth of knowledge that will help provide new insights on industry best practices and secret sauces. If we can get them at a reasonable cost, even better.

But is this really a great hire? I’d argue, it’s quite wrong. Many companies are of this mindset – bring in people with the pedigree and experience that will elevate the organization to a new level. However, we’re looking at it through too shallow of a lens.

Diversity of experience, ability to problem-solve and attitude can best a traditional pedigree almost any day. Take diversity of experience. A candidate that has experience in a variety of industries and roles, brings to the table a broader perspective of knowledge. They have a better understanding of how an organization operates and can draw from knowledge and processes from other industries from which your company can create a strategic advantage. If they have the ability to problem-solve, they can see unique solutions to chronic organizational challenges. If they have a positive and forward-thinking attitude, they will help shape and influence organizational culture to behave the same way.

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Another oversight that many organizations make is that they believe hiring someone who is ‘already trained’ means they don’t have to do any more training. This is also quite wrong. Training shouldn’t be perceived as a hassle and expense of getting a new employee ‘up to speed’. Training should be seen as an opportunity to create a strategic advantage.

Just as an educated customer is a better customer, so is an educated employee. Employees that aren’t just on-boarded, but learn the processes and challenges of other departments, have hands-on time with customers, are continually encouraged to problem-solve, and provided opportunities to advance their skillsets, are better employees.

People are also generally underestimated. As leaders, we need to change our perspectives on how we hire and build teams. We need to focus on not simply hiring someone who’s ‘out of the box ready’, but on candidates both internally and externally, who bring diversity, unique perspectives, problem-solving experience, and a culture-building attitude to the table.This can become a competitive advantage.

Even the greatest of companies started with (and frequently still have) a team that didn’t bring the pedigree to the table – just an array of experiences, a passion for problem-solving, and a challenge to rise to.

About the Author

Andrea Belk Olson Andrea Belk Olson has a 20-year, field-tested background that provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers. In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

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