Abraham Maslow was a mid-20th century psychologist who studied the behavior of high performing individuals. In a 1943 paper, he suggested that people make fundamental and predictable decisions based on different behavioral needs.
Lou Adler author of “Hire with Your Head”, recently shared a simplified business version of Maslow’s findings. People and companies have similar underlying needs, so when these needs don’t align, hiring top people is inefficient, ineffective, and problematic. The idea behind this is that when assessing a candidate’s motivation for work, it’s most likely one of three core needs – economic, social, or achievement. The challenge is that while companies want to hire top talent with the need to achieve, they only consider those who have an economic need to apply and who also meet the company’s personality and first impression standards.
It’s essential to understand a candidate’s motivation for a job change in order to hire the right talent for the right job at the right time. Ask the question and listen to the responses and all can be classified by monetary reasons, employer/employee relationship, or career growth. Passive top talent candidates will be enticed to explore a situation for less money if there is an upside to potential and achievement. There is a lot of recruiting involved in this type of hiring, with the emphasis largely on short-term impact and long-term career growth. On the other hand, candidates who respond to ads are driven by short-term economic needs and primarily look for salary and benefits. Once monetary needs are met dissatisfaction follows and so does turnover.
Let’s apply the Maslow hierarchy perspective: companies first post ads targeting those with an economic need for the job who also meet their “soft skill” criteria. It’s rare to see an ad with a compelling story that appeals to achievers. These same companies quickly reject people if they appear, act, or seem different than the norm, or those who make weak first impressions. However, when candidates fit the “team culture”, managers and recruiters start selling these candidates on the merits of the job.
Do your job postings and descriptions emphasize skills and experience? This may be preventing top talent from ever applying, and even if they do apply, they’re deemed too light. A tendency to maintain the status quo or rock the boat hinders progress. Attracting, hiring, and retaining driven achievers in the knowledge workforce starts with a focus on professional growth. Redefine performance, eliminate counterproductive hiring processes, and implement a hiring model for all critical / key positions.
About Chris Carlson, CPC & Aureus Group Managing Director
Chris is an experienced executive in the staffing industry. She has extensive experience in developing and implementing operational analyses and programs and has assisted hundreds of firms streamline processes and upgrade the competencies of its workforce. Finding innovative ways to generate new business and build teams is her passion. She has developed and executed many successful strategic marketing plans. Chris began her career at Aureus Group, a full-service professional recruiting firm, in 1994 and currently serves as the regional manager of Aureus Group specializing in the Finance & Accounting, Systems, and Executive search areas including Healthcare Administration and Wealth Management professionals.
In addition, Chris is a Certified Professional Consultant, and has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.