If you ask a group of franchise owners what they look for in the people they hire, chances are they will mention skills, experience and possibly education. Those factors might be important, but even people with the greatest backgrounds will disappoint you unless they lack the most important trait of all . . .
You need to hire people who have great attitudes.
Here are some reasons why attitude is the most important trait of all.
- A good attitude is infectious and lifts the performance of all your employees. Conversely, just one employee with a bad attitude can become a “bad apple” who drags down the performance of everyone else.
- Employees with great attitudes do more to build customer satisfaction and repeat business than any other asset you have in your franchise. They do more than signs, displays, ads, coupons, or anything else you try to boost your business. They are the lifeblood of your success.
- Employees with great attitudes will advance and become your most important asset. When you open new locations or need great managers to supervise a growing number of employees, they will be there for you.
How to Screen Job Candidates for Attitude
There is little point in asking job applicants whether they have good attitudes. (All of them will say, “I do!”) You can, however use these strategies to identify candidates who will bring positive attitudes to your company.
- When you interview, ask some “hardball questions” like, “Can you tell me about a time on a prior job when you failed to live up to expectations?” or, “Have you ever witnessed dishonest behavior at work, and what did you do about it?” The answers you hear to questions like those are of secondary importance. You are trying to determine whether the applicant remains positive and upbeat when answering them. Does he or she frown, withdraw, or lapse into negativism? Or does he or she display a positive outlook – and maybe a little bit of humor – when answering? Trust what you see and make your hiring decision accordingly.
- Ask about the applicant’s attitude when you check references. Ask a previous boss about the applicant’s enthusiasm, energy and outlook. And try to identify and talk with references that the applicant did not list on his or her resume.
How to Compare Applicants’ Attitudes
Ron Willingham, the author of Integrity Selling for the 21st Century and other books, has devised a very simple way to evaluate the impact that attitude has on employee effectiveness:
- evaluate the person’s expertise – how much he or she knows – on a scale of 1 to 10.
- evaluate his or her experience – how long has he or she been doing this kind or work – again on a scale of 1 to 10.
- assess his or her attitude on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Fourth, add together the numbers from the first two steps, and multiply the result by the number from the third step.
- Employee A rates an 8 in expertise, an 8 in experience, and a 2 in attitude. Her overall score is then 16. [(8+8) x 2 = 16]
- Employee B rates a 2 in expertise, a 4 in experience, and an 8 in attitude. His overall score is then 48. [(2+4) x 8 = 48]
Willingham’s approach reveals that you can hire someone who has skills relevant to your needs and 30 years of experience, but who will still not create value for you if he or she has a negative attitude.
If you hire someone who has a can-do attitude and very little experience, he or she can have the potential to be much more productive than a negative employee with far greater experience and skill.
Cultivating Positive Attitude Once People Are Working for You
There is not much point in hiring people with great attitudes unless you do all you can to cultivate a positive company culture that supports them after they come on board. You have to listen to them, use and reward their ideas, and show them how to excel and advance in your franchise.
Another way to promote good attitude is to use what I call “The Five-to-One Rule.” To do it as a manager or franchise owner, get in the habit of saying five positive things to people for every one piece of positive criticism that you offer. This strategy helps you “catch people doing things right” and builds a supportive and positive company culture where great people with great attitudes thrive.
The approaches outlined in this article are adapted from Evan Hackel’s book Ingaging Leadership: 21 Steps to Elevate Your Company. Evan is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership, visit Ingage.net. Follow @ehackel.