The Key to Sustainable Business Success


by on Feb 29, 2016 1:34 PM

There’s a popular saying in the business world: “hire slowly and fire quickly.” It seems that very few organizations follow that sage advice.

Most people are hired for their experience. Yet, most people are fired for their behavior. Given this fact, I often wonder why organizations hire quickly and fire slowly.

It takes a ton of effort and money to recruit candidates, select who you think are the best ones, put them through expensive training, put up with their bad behavior, write them up ad infinitum, then fire them after a heck of a lot of damage has been done. After years of repeating the same mistakes, why haven’t employers figured out how to implement an effective recruitment, selection, management and development processes?

I believe that I have found the answer: Most organizations place far too much emphasis on skills and far too little on behavior. There is little effort to remove the mask of good interview behavior to determine if they will be a help or a hindrance, and recruiting is often focused on the rush to fill the position.

I recently read a great book entitled, “What’s Your Impact on Business – The Sherpa Guide to Business, Behavior and You” by Brenda Corbett. The author presents a very simple but fundamentally powerful formula:

Positive Behavior + Positive Skills = Positive IOB (Improved Impact on Business)

Let’s think through the logic behind this simple formula. I think everyone would agree that employees who exhibit excellent skills and excellent behavior contribute greatly to an organization’s success.

I propose the following result when applying the IOB formula in the case where the wrong person gets hired:

Negative Behavior + Positive Skills = Negative IOB

The proof is contained in millions of highly-skilled employees who are fired every year because their poor behaviors spread to other members of their team. The good news is that great coaches can help you salvage some of these employees. The bad news is that your recruitment, selection, management and development processes are probably misaligned with your goals.

What does the IOB formula predict when you favor good work behavior over good skills? That there is no such thing as “negative skills.” Therefore it would be impossible for the IOB formula to result in a negative IOB when skills are zero and behavior is positive:

Positive Behavior + No Skills = Positive IOB

Where’s the proof? It exists in many areas of your organization. You have employees whose behaviors are remarkable, who hold huge untapped potential, and are capable of learning new skills at lightning speed. On top of that, they are the ones who discover better ways of performing tasks, making their team stand head and shoulders above the rest.

So let’s sum up the root causes of Negative IOB: unfocused and hurried recruiting, hasty selection decisions, complacent management behavior, and broadly scattered investment in developing people, all leading to poor uptake and an exodus of great talent.

The IOB formula works to your advantage when you focus your recruiting, use behavioral interviewing to select high-potential people, coach your managers to keep their behavior positive, and focus your training capital to develop your high-potential employees to take on new challenges.

Following the IOB formula, your organization will experience sustainable business success. If your organization has this challenge, call me at 609-688-0428 to discuss further.