What is the most important quality to look for in a new hire? Hint: It’s not skill set!

You can hire a candidate who has a great skill set and interviews well, only to discover their performance continually upsets, frustrates or disappoints you. Why is this? It all comes down to a lack of compatibility with your "immutable laws."


What Are Immutable Laws?

Immutable laws are your core values, your fundamental, deeply held beliefs, your highest priorities and the organizing principles that guide your actions. These are the seeds of your culture.

Clarifying these before your next hire will dramatically improve your chances of hiring someone you are proud to have on your team.

The challenge most of us have is our immutable laws are so much a part of the fabric of who we are that we have a hard time identifying them, much less putting them into written form to share publicly in our businesses.

We are happiest when operations in our business are in sync with our immutable laws. But beware. When our immutable laws are violated, we feel it. We get frustrated and angry.


Identify Your Core

Here are two powerful questions to ask to identify your immutable laws:

  • When do you feel proud of your business? Chances are, an immutable law is being honored.
  • What’s ticked you off recently? Think about something an employee or customer has done recently that really got under your skin. Chances are, one of your immutable laws was violated. Try to put that immutable law into words.

For example, one business owner shared with me he was frustrated his employees were showing up to work "around 8 a.m." and often were about 5 minutes late. He had repeated discussions with them about the importance of showing up on time for work. Things would get better for a few days, but then the employees would be right back to old behaviors, strolling in a minute late, then 5 minutes late, etc.

I asked this owner what "showing up on time" means to him. His reply: "It means showing up 5 minutes early." Aha! This was an unspoken immutable law for him. Once he clarified this immutable law with his team members, his better team members began showing up early. If they were "late," they were arriving at 8 a.m. The owner was much happier with this pattern of behavior from his employees.

Take a few moments to brainstorm your immutable laws. Here are some of our immutable laws as examples to help you get started. Feel free to borrow any of these that resonate:

  • Work supports life, not the other way around.
  • Be a gift from your gifts. We seek opportunities to use our strengths to add value to our clients and our communities.


Lead With Love

Choose optimism over doubt. Focus on what’s possible.

There are no right or wrong immutable laws. Create the ones that are right for you and your business.

Only hire people whose immutable laws are well-matched with yours, even if that means passing up the applicant with the glowing resume because you just don’t feel like they get what you are about and what you are up to in your business.

Weed out team members who don’t hold your immutable laws. It doesn’t mean they are bad people. They just don’t have the same core values as you. Over time, you’ll have a leaner, higher functioning team that you’ll be proud of.


This article originally appeared in Arkansas Business and is part of a series of monthly commentaries by Sabrina Starling, the Arkansas-based the author of the "How to Hire the Best" series, founder of Tap the Potential LLC and host of the "Profit by Design" podcast. Learn more at tapthepotential.com.


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