When hiring an employee, an HR manager takes stock of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Can they do the work they are hired to do? Do they have the specified degrees determined to be necessary? Did they go to a prestigious school? Was their resume impeccable? Interestingly enough, a candidate can have all of the listed qualifications – and still not be the right person for the job. They have education, experience, degrees…and they still might not be right for the job? What could not be right about them? It’s that little thing…or not so little thing called personality. Do they have “people skills” – “soft skills?”
Attendees at a college and business forum discussed issues about new employees just entering the workforce. Business’s number one comment was that many of the graduates “don’t know how to be nice.” It seems clear that people need to be able to work together for the best result in quality of work done, and the efficiency with which the work is done. The result of unhappy employees is often turnover, disengagement, sabotage and worse. These scenarios cost companies a lot of money, unfortunately it’s a cost that remains relatively hidden so it’s hard to quantify. If an employee comes in contact with customers and they don’t handle people with respect, tact and diplomacy, they will offend customers and very likely cause unhappy, unsatisfied customers who will now go somewhere else to do business. If a business owner doesn’t see this happen – they never know it happened. They don’t know how many people the unsatisfied customer told about their bad experience, or the corresponding loss of revenue from the “life time value” of the customer that left. Additionally, there are the potential customers who never showed up due to the comments of the unhappy customer. This is how “soft skills equal cold hard cash.”
Companies spend large amounts of money on marketing to get their name, brand, and image out to the marketplace. Often times creating awareness of a company requires months of advertising, or word of mouth until it can reach “critical mass” when suddenly – everyone seems to know about it. A recent poll of small business owners revealed that the average marketing budget for a small business is less than $2000. That may not be considered a large sum of money to many, but, to these small businesses it’s a significant amount of money. So where do the employees come in? One employee with a bad attitude, slacking work habits, slovenly appearance or rude behavior can undermine a company’s entire marketing effort.
It’s true that no one can please everyone, but a company can definitely improve the chances of a positive impression by carefully selecting the candidates that work for them. It is important that the hired candidate is capable of doing the requirements of the job, however, do not underestimate the importance of that person’s values, personality, disposition. Think about how they will impact the organization in either a positive or negative way. Employees can be a great asset, and they can also be a great liability.