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Hire and Inspire - like chicken and egg?

When I read this quote earlier today, I thought: This sounds like a chicken and egg debate. In your experience - which problem comes first? Can we attribute more culture issues to one over another? Does poor hiring cause lower engagement? Or does failure to inspire breed bad hiring decisions? If an organization succeeds in one of these processes, does the other one automatically improve as well? They may seem hard to separate, and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

"Some companies don't have an engagement problem, they have a hiring problem." - Bob Kelleher


  • @Jacqueline Dube @Matt Poepsel @olivier aries -- you all would have valuable insights to add to this discussion!

  • I'm not sure I agree with the quote. Bob Kelleher is an engagement consultant suggesting that engagement is actually a hiring program. I'm curious why he thinks that. It seems like bad business for a consultant to suggest his specialty services only work when the org hires right (i.e. the job/behavioral profile match).

    Does 'Inspire' depend so heavily on who the organization hires that the aptitudes aren't effective regardless of who engages in those activities? In other words, can we only achieve higher engagement results when we hire right?

    In short, my perspective is 'no'.

    In more detail, I think it's incorrect to collapse the term 'engagement' as it's used in the current business conversation with the framework of 'Inspire.'

    I believe the solutions we're providing our clients on the 'Inspire' side of Talent Optimization should move the dial of engagement regardless of who we're working with and their internal drives.

    The Inspire section of the Talent Optimization framework includes creating new jobs and career paths, developing leaders, creating high-performance teams, and reinforcing culture. None of these aptitudes require you to hire right (i.e. a job/behavior profile match). In fact, we say that every profile is perfect, and there are activities we can do to align the person with the org via Inspire.

    These activities DO require that the team increases their awareness and attention of behavioral drives and how to communicate with each other about the potential conflicts that might arise due to job/behavior profile mismatches.

    But to say that engagement is a hiring problem pushes the blame further up the line and absolves us of the work required by the 'Inspire' aptitude when we're not getting the engagement and performance we want.

    As an aside, this doesn't seem like a good strategy for a consultant who provides engagement services to suggest it's a hiring problem, but I'll have to read his books to understand this point of view better.

  • I agree with @Matthew Koren. When I look at the talent optimization model, it's meaningful that Hire and Inspire are aligned (but separate) pieces of the framework, with neither one preceding the other. Engagement is an outcome I associate with Diagnose--a recurring assessment of the entire system to identify areas of strength and weakness within the company's optimization efforts. Rather than think of the chicken and the egg, I have always treated Hire and Inspire as co-dependent, symbiotic initiatives, each of which is individually necessary but not sufficient for optimization if used in isolation.

  • As a culture designer, I think understanding and fixing any broken people dynamics during the inspire phase is a much more effective way to then figure out the gaps and make better hiring decisions. However, it's not black and white - I know plenty of companies are in a hectic hiring phase and jump right in that way first and that's ok too.

  • Thank you all. I agree, @Matthew Koren that they are interconnected and perhaps have some causality (or at minimum correlation) to one another. Engagement, as we know, also correlates to turnover and retention. I have found at a recent employer that the stress of losing good employees takes a toll on leadership, causing them to sometimes make poor hiring decisions, out of desperation. And then those folks are brought into a toxic environment and the cycle continues. In my view, it's very difficult to separate them. Thanks, all for the thoughts!

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