The purple squirrel is a mythical creature.
Similar to unicorns, purple squirrels exist only in the imagination.
However, the term purple squirrel is often used in reference to describing those hard-to-find, Rock Star employees that we’ve referred to in this series as difference makers. The employees that drive the value of an organization.
This article is part of a series that is dedicated to finding a greater understanding of the contribution of human capital assets (people!) to the overall valuation of a business enterprise. If you’re just joining us, welcome to The New ROI: Return on Individuals.
In this article we discuss how to find and attract the difference makers.
According to Dave, things like best-in-class products and services or leading brands can attract top tier candidates… initially.
Great benefits, flexible hours, stock options, equity, swag, and a lifestyle that speaks to work-life balance are all expected as the bare-minimum requirements if you truly want to attract the cream of the crop.
But, he says, “savvy difference makers know how to research and network any potential employer. In this age of transparency, they will find current and former employees on LinkedIn and network with industry insiders to get the scoop on what it’s really like to work there.”
So, what actually attracts a difference maker is… other difference makers. The one’s that evangelize throughout the market and their networks.
As we discussed previously, difference makers desire organizations that will invest in their professional development through training, coaching, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.
Top performers also tend to get bored easily, so they are attracted to opportunities that will keep them challenged, learning, and on the cutting edge of their industry and function.
As a former headhunter, Dave views the selection of best-fit candidates as a mad alchemy of art and science. The ‘art’ of selection is the skill acquired over years of experience, so let’s talk about the science.
The Science of Selection
When it comes to identifying the difference makers from the rest of the crowd, Dave says that behavioral interviews have fallen out of fashion and proven not to be predictive of performance. Candidates who are skilled at improvisation tend to ace these types of interviews that have questions that begin with, “What would you do if…?”
Competency-based interviews are in vogue and focus on the background, experience, skills and knowledge of the candidate. These types of interviews have questions that begin with, “Tell me about a time when…?” which begs for real stories and experiences. The competency-based interview gets at what is in the candidate’s ‘briefcase,’ so to speak. This is better, but it’s only predictive of performance 6% of the time.
When you add a behavioral assessment (which gets at what is in the candidate’s heart) to the interview, it becomes 23% predictive of performance. And when you add a cognitive assessment (what’s in the candidate’s head) in addition to the behavioral assessment, it becomes 51% predictive of performance.
The key to hiring difference makers is to gain access to their head, heart, and briefcase during the selection process. The use of Psychometric Analytics in hiring has been in fashion for awhile now. But, like fashion, what’s old is new again.
According to Dave, the leading solution, and the only one validated to be used for hiring and selection, is The Predictive Index © (PI). PI is 60 years old but there’s a lot that’s new; as millions of dollars have been injected into the solution. With over 500 validation studies, 8,000 customers, and more than 2.5 million people taking PI each year, it is one the most scientifically valid and reliable solutions for hiring. Dave adds:
“Data is good, but as a guy who’s placed over 500 CEOs in my day, I think about the candidate experience. Top performers and difference makers that are in high demand don’t want to spend hours taking a bunch of assessments. ” – Dave Nast
PI only takes about 5 minutes to complete and provides more than just best-fit selection statistics. What differentiates PI is that the user can create something called Performance Requirement Options (“PRO”). This is essentially a Job Profile for the candidate.
The ideal game plan would be to administer this to your difference makers to determine the optimal candidate profile of what it takes to be a top performer in a given role. The more difference makers that take the PRO, the more accurate it will be.
The software then synthesizes the results of the individual PROs from the various difference makers, and creates a unified PRO for what is required to be a difference maker. Then when the PI is administered to all new candidates, it will match the candidate’s PI against the “difference maker PRO” that was created to scientifically validate whether or not the particular candidate possesses the characteristics of a difference maker.
The system will also generate the appropriate competency-based interview questions to ask, taking the guess-work out of which competencies to delve into during the interview.
But it doesn’t end there.
It will also generate coaching questions based on their PI’s match to the PRO so it can predict where the candidate might excel and where they might struggle. So, after hiring the new difference maker, their manager will know which questions to ask in order to help them succeed and how best to keep them engaged in the future.
Dave says: “if you can improve the communication and understanding of the individual drivers between the employee and manager, you can increase the likelihood of hiring success and ultimately, retention. That, of course, will impact a company’s valuation.”
And ultimately improve the likelihood of building a team of purple squirrels.
If you would like to learn more about PI or to request a complimentary assessment, please email Dave@NewROI.com