Leadership Lesson: Are you hiring “Work-Ready” employees? Really?

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on July 6, 2018

Available. Plenty of people ready to work, yet too few are “Work-Ready.” Having only the job content skills, “Hard Skills,” is not enough. There are four more capabilities of significance. Four more? Keep reading. 

The four added capabilities are: effective communications abilities; cultural fit;  supportive behaviors; leadership mindset (even if they have no high-level job title nor any people reporting to them). These are the “Soft Skills.” So what?

Businesses understand increasingly that just knowing how to do a given job does not necessarily create an excellent employee – from CEO through every role in the organization. The four “Soft Skills” can make or break top performance. How?


Here are some examples what happens due to inadequate skill sets:

When a given set of content skills are applied to the wrong job, then this mismatch likely will not produce the desired outcome – true of executive positions, too.

If an employee has the skill to delegate work, but cannot communicate well, then there is no effective delegation.

Expecting new hires to automatically fit into the existing culture of the company is a mistake. If they do not happen to match, then they can be a problem employee.

Given that a prospective hire does not have the behaviors to support strongly their job content skills, there is an increased chance they will fail the job.

If candidates don’t have a bias to action, or an attitude of problem solving, or are unable to help motivate others, they lack a leadership mindset and are dependent.

And, if an existing employee is a candidate for a promotion or internal job change, will they still match the five areas of employee suitability: content skills, effective communications, cultural fit, supportive behaviors, and a leadership mindset?

Simple score

Here is an easy way to evaluate each of the five areas of capacities:

1.   Job Content Skills: score their demonstrable job skills from 0 to 5 and have a threshold of at least 4 to further consider the candidate.

2.   Effective communications: give them 0 to 5 points for their obvious abilities to speak, write, read, and (especially) to listen well – with a minimum acceptable score of 3.

3.   Cultural Fit: before describing the company culture, ask candidates about their culture, values, beliefs. Then score them 0-5 re how well they can fit in. Minimum score of 3.

4.   Supportive Behaviors: do they exhibit behaviors that will make them good members of teams – such as empathy for others? Score them from 0 to 5, with a minimum score of 3.

5.   Leadership Mindset: even if the candidate will not have a manager or executive title, or a staff, do they have the mental characteristics of leaders? Score 0-5, minimum score of 3. However, if they will be a manager or executive, minimum score of 4 is essential.

Total score? Candidates must have a minimum score in each of five categories. Then, take a look at the sum of those scores to help make your choice. Get input from other interviewers. And trust your intuition.

Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. – Edward Gibbon, English author 

The bottom lines

“Hard Skills” – knowing how to do a job is critical. So are “Soft Skills” – effective communications; cultural fit; supportive behaviors; leadership mindset. Find, evaluate, and hire real “Work-Ready” people who have both skill sets. Really.

Click here to read this article on the Phoenix Business Journal site.