Is it "what" or "who" you hire?

July 15, 2011 | by Nate DaPore
Is it

One of the most critical —and sometimes frustrating — challenges managers face today is staffing. In the restaurant industry, being fully staffed with high-quality employees is paramount and a key to success. Customers will not wait or accept being underserved simply because a restaurant is understaffed. Management often spend anxious moments wondering whether their employees will show up to work, or even perform their jobs at or above the standard.

Anxious moments such as these are why many hiring mangers take a ‘warm body’ approach to hiring. In effect, they assume they are in a “high turnover” business (e.g., restaurants, convenience stores, assisted living, retail), but that is not the problem. The problem is retention of high-quality employees. A lowered hiring standard means a lowered customer experience. Becoming the first choice of your customers demands employees who perform, fit your culture and stay.

“What” comes before “who”

Hiring and retaining good employees requires you to think in terms of “what” before “who.” The “what” of hiring is as simple as it is profound: What you are hiring is your customer experience! What you are hiring is your culture! These points are easy to see in an industry where the single most important source of competitive differentiation is employee quality. In these situations, employees are the faces, hearts and hands of the company’s consumer brand.

Using an effective employee hiring process significantly increases the chances that customers will have the experience originally intended for them. The challenge for managers is finding the time and resources to build a staffing system that attracts and retains the right kinds of people.


Despite the evidence of high-employee turnover and an inconsistent customer experience, many managers believe they can spot a good hire; someone who will do the job of earning the loyalty of customers. Research shows that most managers could just as effectively pick the right people if they flipped a coin than if they applied their personal magic to identifying winners. When it comes to hiring, managers are typically long on confidence and short on competence.

Effective pre-employment assessments — specifically designed with both employee andcustomer experiences in mind — significantly improve the odds of a successful hire. First, they increase the chances that new hires will deliver the intended customer experience—the one that characterizes the company’s brand. Second, they increase the chances that new hires will stay and prosper with the business.

This targets the real challenge of hiring — identifying people who fit your company’s culture. By hiring employees who share company values—we call it “fit”—managers are taking a step toward strengthening the company’s culture and, thereby, the customer experience. And that is why “what” you hire is every bit as important as “who” you hire.

For this blog post, CorvirtusPresident and CEO Marta Erhardcollaborated with me about the keys to hiring the right fit.

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Hiring and Retention, Human Resources, Operations Management, Staffing & Training

Nate DaPore
Nate DaPore, PeopleMatter President and Chief Executive Officer As the spirited leader of PeopleMatter, Nate is passionate about providing team members, including his own, with a rewarding workplace experience that values creativity and innovation. wwwView Nate DaPore's profile on LinkedIn

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