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You Can’t Change People (On Tigers and Stripes)

One of the biggest problems businesses face is managing and motivating employees. But this isn’t the real problem. The real problem is hiring people that need to be managed or motivated in the first place.

Managers see a problem in the employee’s background, or they identify some area of concern through the hiring process, and they believe that they can work with that problem. They believe that the person can change and that they will improve once they are hired. Later, they find that the issue that gave them pause during the hiring process is a real problem. But now they own that problem.

If a candidate has had a problem getting along with others, if they have a poor attitude, then it is certain that you will deal with that attitude after you hire them.

If they have had an attendance problem in the past, you will own that attendance problem in the future. Count on it.

If they lack the self-discipline to keep the commitments that they make to themselves and to others, you will deal with their failures after they are hired.

The same is true when we look at the skills required to sell well. If the person you are considering isn’t willing to ask for commitments, then you are hiring someone who won’t close.

If the salesperson you are hiring isn’t resourceful, if they suffer from learned helplessness, then you aren’t hiring a salesperson; you are hiring a dependent.

If they speak in language that indicates that they haven’t embraced sales as their career, their path, then you are hiring someone that will be a salesperson in name only.

You can’t change these things. Only they can change themselves.

Just Keep Looking

It’s a mistake to hire people with the hope that you can change them. It’s not that people aren’t capable of change; they are capable of magnificent and earth-shattering changes. But people only change when they want to change. They change when they are inspired to change or when they are so desperate that they have to change. They make the decision to change when they are good and ready, and not a minute before.

It’s a mistake to hire people that you know to have a problem that you are not going to be able to help them overcome. You are better off not hiring a person that is going to fail in their new role, disrupt your team, or that is going to need to be tightly managed or motivated. You don’t have the time, the energy, the resources, or the ability change others simply because you need them to change. Your time is better spent identifying other candidates that will have a greater likelihood of succeeding in the role for which you are hiring.

You can’t change people. And it isn’t your business to try to make them change to produce results for you. The best investment of your time and resources is in hiring people that you don’t need to change in the first place.

Questions

Can you change other people?

Is it fair for you to hire people in hopes of changing them? Is it fair to be unhappy with them for not changing?

What causes people to decide to change unhealthy beliefs and behaviors?

Is the time that you would give up working with an employee that needs massive change better spent hiring the right employee? Or, is it more important to have someone in the role, even with a set of problems that prevent them from succeeding.


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