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When assessing candidates, managers should pay attention to personal traits as well as competencies.
Screening and developing the right skill sets for a position is essential. But managers who place too much emphasis on job qualifications mistakenly ignore personal qualities that, when combined with competencies, result in extraordinary performance.
Managers are usually comfortable assessing an employee's or a candidate's job-related competencies based on resumes, testing and interviewing. But singling out personal traits that contribute to star performance is harder. The following seven qualities provide managers with the best clues:
When someone speaks up, it shows a commitment to the work and to the company. It's a sign that the employee thinks for himself, practices critical thinking and is highly engaged.
But self-puffery is pervasive. Just read online self-profiles. Look for the employee or candidate who lets ideas and performance do the talking. Those are the people who give credit to the team and partner with co-workers.
Challenges "magic bullet" answers.
Recognizes the importance of customers.
Star performers engage with customers. They seek feedback, and consider and respond to what the customers are saying. Encourage employees to informally engage in dialogues with clients, and see how well the employees synthesize those conversations and translate them into improved processes or better goods and services.
Avoids overusing jargon.
Jargon is a substitute for clear thinking and accurate communication. When you see or hear it, it should be a red flag.
Star performers seek out productive employee interaction; they don't shut their world to it.
However, an obnoxious trend has taken hold, especially among younger employees—earbuds. Employees who listen to music or online talk through earbuds send "do not disturb" messages. Earbuds have replaced closed office doors as signals from people who are not approachable. Just like knocking on a closed door, walking up to someone with earbuds is awkward.
Star performers seek out productive employee interaction; they don't shut their world to it. While much office chatter can be trivial, the opportunity for interaction through personal, one-on-one conversation could lead to stimulating effective ways to understand someone else better and increase productivity.
These seven personal qualities are important in identifying star performers. A well-qualified, highly skilled employee who doesn't possess them will not become a star performer—just like an employee who possesses these personal traits without the skills also won't succeed. A star performer possesses a combination of both.
The author is founder of GrahamComm, a marketing and sales consulting firm in Quincy, Mass. He can be reached via www.johnrgraham.com.
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