Getting the right person for the job also means having the right job for the person

Herbert Greenberg is president and CEO of Caliper, a team-building company based in Princeton, N.J. Caliper helps small companies and large corporations hire the best employees and build winning organizations.

Job matching is the process of matching the right person to the right job based upon the individual’s inherent motivational strengths. It requires thoroughly understanding the job and the person under consideration.

Understanding the job
While this may seem like an all-too-obvious place to start, you might be surprised at how little attention is paid to understanding the job – from the perspectives of both the individual who is filling the position and from the supervisor.

As a quick experiment, try asking a few co-workers to list their three major job responsibilities. Then ask their supervisors the same question. Rarely will you come up with the same list. That should be a wake-up call to define each position’s responsibilities before filling it with a new hire.

Specific questions should be dealt with in defining a specific job, such as the supervisory structure and the availability of administrative support. Other items to consider are the compensation plan (salary, salary plus bonus, commission only), the career path, and the size and nature of items being sold.

Another important aspect of the job is how much travel is involved. Does the job require working in the office, or is there a great deal of individual field work? The more an individual is in the field, the farther away his support system is. In such cases, there is no manager to say, “Here is what to do today, and here are your plans for tomorrow.” Such a person must be self-motivated and enjoy working independently.

Thinking about your job descriptions in specific terms will enable you to achieve the job match that is key to success. It will help you understand exactly the kind of individual you need to fill each of your particular jobs.

Understanding the person
Managers often ask themselves, “How do you motivate people?” Our answer is, “You don’t.” When we delve below the surface, we find that all effective managers share one thing in common: an ability to understand and focus on the inner motivations of themselves and of those around them.

The key phrase here is “understand and focus on the inner motivations.” In truth, managers cannot “motivate” others. Motivational speakers, incentive plans and contests do not essentially change performance. They all miss the mark because they deal with the external rather than internal motivations.

Of course, people want promotions. Salespeople want the highest commissions they can receive. And nobody wants to be fired. However, simply dangling these carrots does not create effective and consistently productive work.

The true motivation that causes individuals to excel comes from within. It is this inner motivation that distinguishes the 20 percent of those who succeed in virtually every profession. Effective managers have to uncover whether someone has the inner motivations needed to succeed in a particular position.

What motivates managers, salespeople and CSRs?
The most effective managers like to make decisions and take risks. They are consistent and fair, they command respect from others and they are good communicators. They are able to gather information and analyze it in reference to the company’s present and future needs. They know how to delegate projects. And they encourage growth in others as well as themselves.

The most effective salespeople, on the other hand, possess very different qualities. They are able to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. They are motivated to turn others around to their points of view. And they are able to bounce back from rejection and seize the next opportunity. Salespeople, unlike managers, want to be out there themselves, meeting prospects and clients, and negotiating and closing deals.

The most successful customer service representatives bring a list of entirely different qualities to their jobs. They are motivated to please others, driven to come through, organized, detail oriented and able to relate well with others. They are not, like successful salespeople, overly motivated to persuade others.

Some people are motivated by security, others want control; some are driven by accomplishment, others seek involvement; some want to belong and others want to develop.

Embracing on and acting upon this understanding of what motivates people (new hires or existing employees) is certainly more complicated to deal with than using a broad stroke, a “one-size-fits-all” approach. But how people respond to (or ignore) these motivations sets the tone for the entire organization. They are hard to uncover, because often the individuals themselves are unaware of what motivates them. It is these inner motivations, many of which we are not aware of, that impel us to action.

The most effective managers understand their own motivations and so are better able to understand the motivations of those whom they oversee. And they know that if an individual does not possess the proper motivations required to perform successfully in a specific job, all the training and incentives in the world will not make that individual highly productive.

How to identify motivating forces
There are three approaches to identifying what motivates a prospective or current employee.

Behavioral Based Interviewing. Perhaps the most difficult, it relies upon the expertise of the interviewer to elicit feedback from the applicant. Using very specific and probing questions to get to these motivational forces, the most effective practitioners of this process have received extensive training in this approach and have had years of experience to refine their skills.

Personal Observation. When an individual is already on board as a member of the team, astute observers can simply pay attention to what motivation factors have the greatest impact on the individual.

Personality Assessment. A valid and legal personality test will routinely uncover this very important information so that it can be used to focus the new hire or existing employee appropriately.

When filling a position at your company, you can simply hire someone to fill a slot, or you can match the job to the person and the person to the job. In the case of the latter, you will need to understand both.