Talent vs Attitude

Mark Murphy in his book “Hiring for Attitude,” he says that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, attributed mainly to non-technical or non-skill related items. Research shows that most employees are fired for non-skill related items. The truth of the matter is that we often hire for skill, and most often fire for attitude.

Attitude is to do with the way you think about something and therefore affects your behaviour, how you approach challenges, decision making etc. From research and observation, talent plays a much smaller role in the success someone has compared to their attitude.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; noting on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”— W. W. Ziege

This does not prove that attitude is more important than skill or other Candidate Metrics; rather, that attitude should be looked at as equal to the rest of the candidate’s attributes and even higher as we go up the hierarchy.

Most recruiters focus on a candidate’s experience – skills. Most recruiting processes drive transactional behavior – “Let me know what you think of this resume” and they do not focus on a complete understanding of an individual’s multiple dimensions.

The 4 Dimensions to be assessed :

Skills/Experience – Does the candidate have the training/education to do the job?
Competency – Does the candidate have the ability/behaviors to do the job?
Attitude – Has the candidate shown they want to do the job?
Culture Fit – Does the candidate do the job the way the company does or wants to?

Skill & Competency MUST be matched with Attitude & Culture.

Skill determines fit for the function, Competency determines fit for the job, Attitude determines fit for the career, Culture determines fit for the company.

In another study it was found that when a person suceeds in a high profile job, 85% of the times it is because of his attitude and only 15% of the times because of smartness or knowledge of facts and figures. Surprisingly, almost 100% of our education expenses and time go to learn facts and figures which account only for 15% in success at work and life.
Truly, attitude defines the altitude and attitude makes all the difference in pursuit of excellence.
I have seen many Hiring Managers and Leaders falling a prey to this Talent Mania only to realise their folly very soon. I have always felt that Talent/Skills/Competency can be acquired overtime and even in a very short period but Attitude / Culture is something which is hard to acquire. Attitude is something that is nurtured over the years and takes enormous effort and time to change over time. There fore it is better to hire someone who is high on attitude & even a bit less on Talent, rather than hiring someone high on Talent but low on attitude.

Everybody looks at sportstars, musicians, artists etc and say – Wow! what an amazing talent, I wish i could possess that kind of talent. People often confuse themselves with the thought that excellence is all about talent. However, excellence is not about talent alone. In fact a major portion of excellence has nothing to do with talent. Beyond a certain point, talent or ability is the most useless virtue to possess. It is what you do with that talent that counts. Beyond a point, it is attitude that counts way more than talent.

It has been observed that even the most talented people in this world have not been able to achieve what they were supposed to achieve. This is because the moment they faced a road block, did not know what to do. Earlier it was talent that solved problems for them. But beyond a certain point when you reach a certain level, it is your attitude that counts. Once an individual is in the top league, the importance of talent fades away. This is because, others present in the top league also possess the same talent. So whats the difference? The difference here is Attitude. An individual succeeds when he/she has the right attitude, the right work ethic and of course the passion to perform. Talent might open the first door, might open the second door, but will not open all subsequent doors. So to achieve anything in life, it is very important to have the right attitude and passion to do well.
Here is a very thought provoking speech by renowned Sports Commentator – Harsha Bogle speaking on Talent while addressing the students of IIM-Ahmedabad.
The best part about the video is when Harsha was successfully able to explain the importance of failure in life. It’s not a bad thing to fail in life, but the most important thing is: one bounces back from the failure and achieves the height of success again.
The right attitude often results in employees proactively developing the skills they need for their particular role and mastering them.
As per study of William James at Harvard University, “The greatest discovery of this generation is: human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude.”

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