All the people, therefore all your employees, have their bad and good attitudes. Some of them have more good than bad attitudes and it is the opposite for some people. There is also a limited number of characteristics that label people as ‘not suitable’ for hiring. If you check your high performers and low performers, then you will find out differential characteristics, which determine the high and low performance for your organization.
Focusing on distinctive attitudes that separate your high performers from middle and low performers is the key. Even though there are many characteristics desired by managers and organizations, there are critical determinants of employee success and failure for every organization. You need to know which attitudes have a bigger role in predicting failure and success in your organization so that you can avoid hiring people who do not share those traits, and you can turn your head towards people who have the desired characteristics for success. In the end of the characterizing process, you will have a list of three to seven characteristics to differentiate high performers from middle and low performers.
Unfortunately, attitudes are ignored on performance evaluations and so many employees who do not provide top performance get very good reviews. If we had a perfect performance evaluation, we would completely know the best performers; what they are doing and how they differentiate themselves from others, and also the low performers; the reason of their failure, the problematic attitudes and which ones we could correct. As we cannot have a full knowledge from performance evaluation, we need to go deeper to understand the hallmarks of the organization by doing interviews starting from top executors to the lower departments in the organization.
You need to ask specific questions to get to the essence of the matter (finding your hallmarks) in a short time period, instead of asking broad questions that do not provide you detailed information. Starting with question leading you to information about who shows the right attitude for the organization and the reasons or examples of it would be the best way. You may need to push and ask for examples repeatedly to get details that are more specific. After a while, it is better to ask the questions from the other side of the coin. Try to get information about the employees who are lack of right attitude without asking for names. Ask them what is missing in these people and try to learn about the moments that make the interviewees to believe that these people have the wrong attitude for the organization. These examples do not have to be huge incidents, but rather they should make an impression on the interviewees.
One thing you need to be careful about during the interviews is the fuzzy language that does not provide you a clear, precise meaning from what it is said. When an interviewee tells you that the top performer demonstrate highest standards of professionalism, engage in an open and direct conversation, respect and trust colleagues, have sense of responsibility and motivation, and so forth; all these unfixed, vague and urging definitions may lead a misinterpretation. This is the reason why it is important to elicit a Behavioral Specificity with an example that describes the attitude to get the full picture. To do so, you can ask yourself three questions:
It is important to create a different point of view with these questions while evaluating what you are being told because your acquaintance with the interviewee may prevent having clear, bias-free evaluation. If you believe that you are getting vague and unclear information, you need to push harder and ask questions about specific instances and about how the interviewee knows about these instances. Be careful to be polite and respectful when you are pushing for further information.
One last thing is about the number of the interviews. It totally depends on the size of the organization but it is better to do interview with at least two-thirds of the senior executives and half of the lower management layers.