The words you use have power. Remember the old 1930s Laurel and Hardy “Who’s on First?” skit? It’s a classic that is still funny today. We may laugh at the miscommunication—and growing frustration—between Laurel and Hardy. However, there are important lessons about the way in which we communicate embedded in this skit. Words have power and how you use them matters. A lot. That’s why the words you use are your most powerful recruiting tool.
Words mean different things to different people.
Most of us have experienced that moment of shock or surprise when behaviors or actions are not what we expected.
Consider how you would react to seeing a large, black dog walking down the street. Would you see a cute, cuddly puppy just dying to have his ears scratched or perhaps ready to play fetch with you? Or, would you see a vicious predator ready to attack and hurt you?
Your interpretation is formed instantly. Both perceptions of the dog are valid and real to the person who holds them. Both views are formed based on past experiences that drive our understanding of the current situation.
Your past experiences influence how you interpret and assign meaning to events in everyday life. This influence is in our subconscious and few of us examine where that meaning came from.
Coming to a shared understanding is vital to effectively hiring the right people for your business.
We have to be great communicators to make good hiring decisions. Assuming the candidate shares your understanding of words can be a mistake.
Because people generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for, it’s important to examine your communication. The goal is to remove any potential barriers caused by the meanings you associate with your words. Remember, your definition may be entirely different from the person with whom you are communicating.
Effective communication starts before you begin recruiting.
A great place to begin is to define your performance standards, business culture, mission, and values. Include examples that show what the words mean to you.
This gives employees a roadmap of performance and helps you align the job duties with your company culture, mission, and values. For example, your definition of flexible might mean staying until the job is complete. Another person may define flexible as finding someone else to pick up the job and complete it so they can go home on time.
You must define the job’s tasks and the outcomes of those tasks. An easy way to start is to interview current high-performing employees to find out exactly what they are doing. You can also observe how tasks are performed.
A job ad that clearly communicates the good and the bad parts of the job is an essential component of your hiring process.
If the job includes cleaning up messy spills or smelly stuff, make that clear. I know it’s hard to tell someone that the job has components that are tedious, boring, or other things that are bound by constraints like lack of resources. We’re afraid that being honest will scare off great candidates. The problem is that hiding or glossing over the job’s less attractive aspects can lead to problems. Once your great candidate learns the truth, they often feel disgruntled, doubt your honesty or integrity, and question your company values. Being honest is hard; however, it’s necessary if you want to hire people who will be successful and stick with you.
When you interview, be alert for small clues that give you greater insights into your candidates.
Strategically craft questions designed to give you the information you need to be confident in your hiring decision. Define what a right answer looks like and what a wrong answer looks like. Interviewers often ask questions without knowing how to decide if the answer is a good one. Create a chart of your critical behaviors and define those behaviors for high performers and low performers. Use those definitions of the skills, knowledge, and behaviors of both successful and unsuccessful candidates to identify whether your potential candidates are right for your business. Use follow-up questions to make sure you understand what your candidate means.
It’s hard to know who will be a great fit for your company. Understanding words have power and intentionally focusing on good communication is one of the best things you can do to ensure you are hiring great employees.