Monday, March 26, 2012

Hiring for Experience vs Hiring for Potential

It’s happened to any of us in a management position. You’ve gone through a few rounds of interviews, and find yourself needing to make a decision between one of two very different candidates.

One candidate has a strong resume demonstrating years of experience in your industry. He has all of the skills and qualifications you could expect, and you know he could hit the ground running.

The other candidate is younger, and hasn’t held positions that would translate directly to this role. But she’s been successful at every turn. Your gut says think that in a few years you might really be kicking yourself for having passed on her.

Which do you pick?

Hire for your objectives, and for theirs

Of course, there’s no one right answer, but the first thing you should do is take a look at your organization’s objectives.

Is there a time-crunch causing you to need immediate help? Are you launching a new product? Is this a highly skilled technical role? Then you’ll probably lean toward hiring based on experience.

However, if your company has a strong mentorship program, is growing steadily and looking long-term, or more interested in innovation, then the candidate with potential might be the way to go.

It’s not all about your needs, either. Take a long look at what the candidate will want to get out of this role, as well.

Make sure your company’s values align with theirs. Consider whether one candidate is a stronger cultural fit for the organization. Be certain that they will have all the tools they’ll need to succeed, whether they have the experience or the potential.

Watch out for red-flags

Experience and potential aren’t always positives. If that first candidate spent fifteen years in a position, was it because he had no motivation to rise above? Did he lack the skills to take his career to the next level? Does he limit his problem-solving abilities by resorting to tried-and-true methods he’s relied upon over the years?

Conversely, potential is always difficult to measure. Her high GPA doesn’t necessarily translate to intelligence. Someone possessing the ability to rise to her potential will already have demonstrated the ability to stand out from the crowd; she’s done more than her peers of a similar age and background. You don’t know that she’ll have the dedication to stay with one organization long enough for your investment to pay off.

Final considerations

Many employers will look at those red-flags and err on the side of experience. Hiring for potential is a risk, but not everyone has it. Experience happens over time, no matter what.

A short-term, safe approach may stagnate your company, as well. Ideally, you’ll have a mix of experience and potential on your team. The attributes complement each other, and both sides of the spectrum will have something to learn from the other.

Most importantly, make sure the candidate wants to do the work that comes along with the position. It sounds obvious, but whether your candidate has the experience or the potential, the most successful hire will be the one who is willing to do whatever the job requires.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The importance of lifelong learning, and how to foster it in your corporate culture

Staying ahead of the curve is tougher than ever. In fact, sometimes it’s all you can do to keep up with changing technology. In an ideal world, you’d hire a person who does one thing really well, and they might do that one thing for their entire career.

The skills you learned in school that got you that first job may have been applicable for several years, but that’s not the case anymore. From advertising to Zamboni repair, technology requires us all to be in a continual state of learning.

Henry Ford said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty." What was true then, is even truer now. Creating an environment where your employees continue to learn shouldn’t be thought of as merely a perk. It should be considered a must. And in our ever-changing business climate, it is a win-win. Here’s how to make learning work for you and your team:


Offering continued education is a great incentive when you’re hiring. It’s also an excellent way to retain the people you already have on board. Your best employees want to stay at the forefront of your industry, and to keep their skills sharp so as to contribute at a high level. If you’re not providing that opportunity or encouraging them to do so, they may go elsewhere. When you consider the cost of hiring and training someone new, you are better off investing that money in members of your existing team. Someone who wants to learn more is someone you want to keep. Facilitating their growth shows that you value your employees, and gives them something to value in return.


Team chemistry is vitally important to the success of any business. Be sure to reward those employees who express a desire to share what they are learning during their course of education. When you offer tuition reimbursement, you are in a sense, paying to have that knowledge imported and spread throughout your business. One enlightened employee can share their newfound wisdom at internal seminars, workshops, and training sessions, saving you money from having to hire outside contractors and instructors.


Tomorrow’s must-have skills are built upon the innovations of today. A recent article in Fast Company points out that thriving in today’s unpredictable climate requires the ability to embrace change. To quote the article, “Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.” Perhaps more than any other offering, educating your employees arms them with the tools to succeed.

Of course, continual learning is not just for your employees. It should be number one on your to-do list, as well. If you don’t have time for formal classes, there are several online courses and tutorials that can be affordable, or even free of charge. Sites like can be an economical learning resource for you and your company, offering many very specialized and personalized courses of study.

Are you doing all you can to foster lifelong learning in your company and in your life? Share your tips and advice.

Friday, March 2, 2012

TEC EVENT - Discovering the Leader’s Code Part 1: Ancient Secrets for Executive Performance

TEC Breakfast & Speaker Event
Thursday, March 22, 2012
8:00 until 12:00 noon
Wisconsin Club, Milwaukee Room
900 W Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI

“Discovering The Leader’s Code Part 1:  Ancient Secrets For Executive Performance”


Interested in attending? Contact Michele B. at, or (262) 821-3340 for details.

Based on his book, The Code of the Executive, Don Schmincke focuses this unique session on an issue personally dear to the CEO's heart - how to lead extraordinary performance in their organization. When the organization functions effectively, the CEO has more fun, strategy executes, and the bottom-line improves. Yet most CEOs are frustrated with the level of results produced by their organization, or the politics, hidden agendas, and other dysfunctional behaviors sapping organizational vitality. 

This highly participative session addresses these issues with a special journey into ancient history to rediscover lost wisdom that has propelled organizations to success for thousands of years. Members leave with take-home, valued actions and a set of tools for the future. 

A dynamic keynote speaker and provocative author, Don Schmincke, began his career as a scientist and engineer. After graduating from MIT and Johns Hopkins University he became fascinated with how people organize and perform in groups, and even more intrigued by the high failure rate of management consulting and leadership theories. With more than two decades of research using anthropology and evolutionary genetics, he discovered that most management theories fail during implementation due to biological factors. 

Schmincke is the author of the bestselling book, The Code Of The Executive, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and in over 60 industry publications annually. He has appeared on CNN in addition to hundreds of radio and television programs worldwide. In 1990, he founded The SAGA Leadership Institute ( to offer corporate training programs and help CEOs accelerate business performance in the areas of strategy, leadership, sales, and cultural alignment.

Today, Schmincke’s revolutionary work has established him as a consultant renegade and a top speaker for the world’s largest CEO member organization. He flies 200,000 miles annually keynote speaking at conferences, training CEOs in his workshops, and working with clients in every industry from the Department of Defense strategy (once being shot off an aircraft carrier – he’s still recovering) to large and small corporations including the healthcare, manufacturing/distribution, information/ communications, and finance/insurance sectors.

His new book, High Altitude Leadership, with Emmy-nominated Chris Warner (his historic K2 summit seen in the NBC Wide World of Sports special) reveals leadership insights from Death-Zone environments. It was released by Josses-Bass in November 2008.