Why you need to know what people’s values are


Do you know the difference between objectives, values and behaviours? It’s a very important distinction.


◦    Objectives are what you need to achieve
◦    Behaviours are how you do it
◦    Values are why you do it that way



Values tell you how people are likely to behave


When you are recruiting or dealing with new people it can be very helpful to find out what their values are. To discover an individual’s values you need to ask the right questions.



Of course the same is true if you are applying for a job with a new company yourself. Working for people whose values are in opposed to yours can make for a very unhappy work experience.


Most people will happily tell you if you just ask. This is because we all tend to think that our values are right and are shared by everyone else.



How to discover values


Get the individual talking about something they have done, preferably in a difficult situation. Then ask them why they did it that way.  




An example of how to discover values


I once observed a candidate, a woman who we will call Megan, doing a role-play task that formed part of an interview process. She wore a bright red suit and matching stilettos. She was playing the role of an administration manager dealing with a surgeon, Dr Kildare. Her task was to persuade him to meet the new targets, which he was currently failing to meet.


Within a few moments she was shouting and screaming at a surprised Dr Kildare. Then

Values run behaviour

Values run behaviour

she grabbed his lapels and lifted him off the ground. His feet were dangling in the air.


There were two of us observing the task. I noticed that David, the site director was so shocked he wasn’t taking any notes. His hand covered his face and I then realised there were tears running down his cheeks as he could barely suppress his laughter. After the task, the David and I interviewed her. Up till this point she had been the leading candidate. I asked her why she had handled the meeting with Dr Kildare as she had.



She would have got the job


Had she responded by saying that she was very sorry for the way she had behaved, she was

just nervous and it had not gone as she had planned, she probably would have got the job. However, that was not what she said.


‘You can’t negotiate when you only have 25 minutes. You just have to tell them.’ She told us authoritatively, and went on to explain what “these people” were like.


This told us all we needed to know about her values. She didn’t get the job.




Do you want to work for this company?


 When you are considering a new position, if you can, it’s worth asking the same kinds of questions. Ask why the company has behaved in particular ways or has specific policies, or has treated its people. Of course sometimes there is no need to ask.




Values run behaviour


Anyone can behave well in easy situations. It’s when the chips are down that you show your true colours, or values. If you can recruit people who have values that are aligned with your place of work, then you can be reasonably confident that, in your absence, they will act correctly. If you can find a place to work where they share your values, you will probably like working there more and be able to trust them to treat you well.


If not, well, it’s much harder to sleep at night.

Top 10 recruitment and hiring mistakes


Have you ever hired the wrong person? I certainly have.


This week I have a video for you from someone I work with very closely, Dave Nicol, a

Have you ever made this recruitment mistake?

Have you ever made this recruitment mistake?

Scottish vet based in Australia.


I’ve been working with Dave Nicol now for a couple of years. We’ve recruited many of the staff that work in his veterinary practice.


We now work together helping other vets to recruit their staff. As part of that, Dave has identified his top 10 recruitment mistakes (mistakes that he has seen and made over the years) and put them into this very short (and funny) video.


Be warned, although he’s looking at it from the perspective of a vet, some of these mistakes may look quite familiar to you. Watch it if you dare.



Dave’s top 10 recruitment mistakes



Get in touch if you need some help avoiding recruitment mistakes.

Why badly given feedback is worse than no feedback


When you give feedback in the right way, you improve intelligence. When you do it badly, you do the reverse.


(Of course, it is much easier to give feedback if there were smart objectives or smart targets in the first place.)



Specific feedback


Specific feedback is the most effective:


‘This is excellent because you found a much quicker way of doing it that cut down the route by 50%’


‘I am really pleased with the outcome of this project. It’s come in below budget because you checked all the quotes carefully and questioned the ones you thought were high.’


‘This report was very well received by the directors because the summary was clear and concise. I know you checked it with Rick before completing it and that proved to be well worthwhile.’


This kind of feedback has been found to improve the IQ score of students (see work by Carol Dwek to find out more.)



The most effective feedback


Being specific makes it clear what the person did that was so effective so that they can do it again. It also makes it clear that they are in control of their achievements. They know that what they do makes a difference.


What to avoid when giving feedback


Statements that imply a person’s abilities are fixed:

Badly given feedback can be damaging

Badly given feedback can be damaging

  • You are no good at this
  • You are useless
  • You are stupid
  • You are really good at this
  • You are brilliant


Initially you would think that the last two statements would be really motivating and helpful. They are for a very short time. The trouble is that when a person who is ‘brilliant’ at something runs into a problem and doesn’t know what to do about it, this shatters the image of being brilliant. They are left with no strategy for resolving the problem.


This was the surprising finding of Carol Dwek and her research colleagues. Telling students that they were brilliant was actually damaging.



Without feedback there is no learning


Feedback is the only way we ever improve our skills. So feedback is vital, just make sure it’s accurate and you will see huge benefits.


How Long Has This Been Going On? or: Why There are Still Poor Performers in Your Organisation


I had a call from a client who told me of a dreadful problem they had with one of their employees.


“How long has he been with you?” I asked. 

“Twenty two years.” She told me.

“How long have you had the problem?” I enquired.

“Twenty two years.” She replied.


How can this happen? Don’t people notice after a year or two? Here’s how it happens.



Merry Go Round


There are some changes going on in your division and you are looking for certain skills.

Are your employees on a merry-go-round?

Are your employees on a merry-go-round?

Guess what? A colleague has someone with exactly those skills and more. It’s too good to be true – so you take them into your department. Then, too late, you discover the awful truth. You have been sold a lemon. So, at the next opportunity you pass them on. This happens year after year. No one ever has the person long enough to tackle the problem.



Give Him a New Manager


You give your difficult person to a new manager (sometimes a new trainee). The new manager arrives and has no idea of the history of the difficult person and no idea how to deal with it anyway so they leave it. They don’t get much support and so the problem grows.



No Records


You have an appraisal system, but people don’t use it effectively. The appraisal comments are completely useless (or wrong). No one wants to put anything negative down in writing. So your difficult person sails along for years with an average rating. No one incident is quite bad enough to warrant action. Sometimes they even get a pay rise because no one wants to tell them they can’t have one.



People develop ways of living with it


A man went to his doctor. He had a small frog growing out of the top of his head. “When did this start?” asked the surprised doctor. “About a year ago; it started with a small pimple on my bottom.” Said the frog.


We get used to dealing with long-term problems. I once worked with a department that was completely organized around one awkward person. Every manager rotated jobs every six weeks, just so no one had to work with this person for longer than six weeks at a stretch.


It’s just the same as living with your old wallpaper. It’s not till you have re-decorated that you realize just how tatty and tired the old paper was.



We are all frogs


If you put a frog into hot water it jumps out. If you put it into cold water and slowly heat

Are you a frog?

Are you a frog?

up the water, the frog gets cooked. It never knows when to draw the line to tell it that the water is too hot. Should it be at 68 degrees or 69 degrees?


It’s just the same with problem people. We put up with the last problem, they caused so why not just live with this one?




Let sleeping dogs lie


There are some problems that especially lend themselves to this excuse. The person who

Don't wake up the dog!

Don’t wake up the dog!

just can’t take feedback – so we don’t give it to them and the problem gets worse. The person who might attack us back, so we avoid talking to them about any problems they have caused. In the mean time the problems carry on or get worse.



Promote her out of the way


How many times have you seen the way of dealing with difficult employees and people who didn’t have the skills is just promoting them into another job that they still don’t have the skills for? Clients often ask me how a particular person could possibly have ended up in such a senior position. There are many reasons for this. Here are a few:


    •    Poor promotion criteria.
    •    People too frightened not to give the person the job.
    •    People concentrating on only the technical aspects of the job.
    •    People imagining that somehow a person will just rise to the challenge.
    •    A person being put into a more senior post and not getting the development.
    •    All the other candidates are even worse.
    •    Poor promotion procedures.


In my mind one of the most damaging situations can arise when someone who habitually uses bullying gets promoted. This leads to a situation where they have more and more power, it becomes more and more difficult to tackle the situation and there are fewer and fewer people in a position to do it.



Tackling the Problem


The cost of leaving these problems to grow and multiply is huge – and that’s not just the financial cost – there’s the cost on the health of those involved. Dealing with poor performance is something that needs to be a priority.


It is important to recognise that simply getting the person out of the way or just leaving it is making a decision to throw away money and time. Added up over years this could be phenomenal. Make sure you are not wasting your own resources on something like this. Get someone to help you and sort it out.