Hire for attitude

Never being part of HR team, I’ve been involved in interviewing people for many years. I wish I collected some data over time, but well, I didn’t. The fact is – I’ve learned a hell of a lot about people (and myself) in this process.

What I was looking for in a candidate years ago is different to what I look for these days. Yes, I still look for skills and experience, they are important, but it’s not the full recipe for a great colleague. The world is changing so rapidly, that something you excel in technically today might be worthless in 5 years time.

Most of all, I am looking for the right attitude. Someone who happily checks their ego at the door (work is not a competition!) and puts their whole hearts into the job. In other words – if you are at work – truly be there, not just sit there. It’s not even coming to the office that matters here – wherever you are – are you mentally at work or would you rather be somewhere else?

Part of the right attitude is proactivity. A lot of people simply wait for permission (many never even ask, just assuming the answer would be no). If you are passionate about what you do, mature enough to understand the consequences and truly believe it’s the best thing to do – just do it! Apparently, it’s proven that in the long term we regret more the things we didn’t do rather than the ones we did! So – if you believe it is the right thing to do – ask for forgiveness, not permission (some of my colleagues hear it a lot from me!).

Now, something essential that is a result of the right attitude and proactivity (or maybe it’s the other way around?) – learning. How do you educate yourself? How much time and/or money you invest in your development? How hungry (for knowledge) are you? And what did you learn from your own career so far?

Part of the learning process is sharing what you learned with others. Some people say there is no value in it (!) and it makes me cringe. It’s a short-sighted view in my opinion. Education is not an instant coffee, the benefits will not always show up the next day. We learn by doing and teaching is doing.

These are of course my values, based on my own experience with candidates. I am not an HR person and I probably missed some other important aspects. But well, I am still learning! And sharing: here is an excellent video about behavioural interviews by Jackson Gabbard. It’s one hour long, but worth the time.

Now – teach me something!



Can trust be calculated?

Relationships with people play a big part in the success of a product owner. They usually get better in time, but not always. Investigating some recent issues, I bumped into a trust equation. Yes, a formula that helps calculate trust.

Here it is:

Trust = (C + R + I) / S

C stands for Credibility. In other words ‘do you know what you are doing?’. If your colleagues or stakeholders don’t think you are an expert in your field, they might trust you less than you would like. So the question here is – how can you demonstrate your skills? Is there something you could teach your colleagues? How transparent are you with what you do, how and why? I.e. do your stakeholders know about the case studies that influenced your decision or do they think it was a gut feeling?

R stands for Reliability. Can your colleagues and stakeholders count on you? The answer usually comes with time and it’s based on past experiences. The question to ask is – have you always delivered as expected? Agile and its small batches of deliverables might be a great help here – deliver often and you will appear more reliable.

I stands for Intimacy (as strange as it sounds in the business context!) The question is – do they like you? It’s been proven that familiarity increase liking, so if this is your struggle – think of what do you have in common with your colleagues. Some common barriers here are – remote locations and the cultural differences. Sometimes, an email written by a non-native English speaker might sound harsh to English people, even though it was not the intention. My advice here would be to increase face to face time, even if it can only be done via a video call.

S stands for Self Orientation. In other words – do you really care about the stakeholder and the business or do you have a hidden agenda and only care about your own progression? As this is the denominator in the equation, it might quickly suppress all the other factors, so it’s important to simply be genuine. Check your ego at the door and stay as transparent as you can. If people don’t know reasons for your behaviour, they will assume some (not always fair!) and in time they will treat it as a fact.

All of the factors influence each other and should not be looked at in isolation. A great starting point would be to identify the weakest factor and start from there. We recently used a scale 1-5 for each of the factors and did the calculation. The result was not great (I call it an opportunity) so we agreed some actions to take and in 3 months time we are going to calculate it again.

Here are the book and a short summary video.

Are there any more ingredients of trust? Probably. I am going to explore the equation as it is first and see what happens. I’ll let you know if I discover a missing part.

Can every meeting be a Lean Coffee like?

Every time I am in a meeting with a missing agenda or when an agenda item is dragging forever, I think of the Lean Coffee format.

The recipe for a Lean Coffee meeting is simple:

  • There might or might not be an agenda to start with.
  • People get together and individually write the topics they want to talk about (post-it notes work well here).
  • There is a dot-voting to decide what to discuss next (just the very first topic).
  • The timer (usually 10 mins) starts.
  • People discuss the selected topic.
  • When the timer goes off, there is thumbs-up/down voting to decide if the topic is finished or requires a further discussion. NB: thumbs down mean – ‘no need to discuss anymore’, as opposed to ‘the speaker was crap’ or ‘I completely disagree’.
  • If the majority of thumbs went up – the timer starts again and the discussion continues. If decided otherwise – the next topic is chosen and the cycle begins again.

It’s such a simple method to stay focussed in a meeting, without being rude to anyone who likes talking too much…

Can this be done remotely? Of course – just use a shared doc instead.

Probably not every meeting could be a Lean Coffee one, but a lot of them have the potential!