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     It's now May, and it probably is time to review the performances of your new hires at the beginning of the year and see if they pass their probation period.


    In case that you find that some of those new hires did not perform to your expectations, you may want to review your hiring process so that you hire highly engaged and motivated staff with great attitude, and avoid those who could not fit in to your team.


     Is it really possible to find the right candidate who is highly-engaged, self-motivated and has a great attitude as well?


     We'll find out in this month's topics:

  1. How to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude; and

  2. Have You Ever Thought About the Cost of Hiring the Wrong Salesperson?


     This issue's main article is on  "How to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude", and we'll see how we can find the right employee in our hiring and interview process.


    In brief:

  • Despite having 51.83% - 89% of new hire failure being due to attitudinal problems, 72.17% of HR and hiring managers based their hiring decisions on the skills and experience of the candidates, rather than their attitudes;

  • Why behavioural interview techniques such as "STAR" and "BAR" can actually lead the candidate to tell you what you want to hear, rather than telling you what actually happened;

  • How by having a set of "standard questions and "model answers" you can make every interviewer in your company achieve a consistent level of hiring the best candidates with the best attitudes.  Read on... ...  


     To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (


     You can also watch the Founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, Mark Murphy's interview in Shanghai with iTV-Asia on 13 Apr 2012, as he speaks about hiring challenges companies face, and why SMART goals can be really dumb.  Click  to watch it now.


    Now you can provide year-long on-boarding training for your newly promoted managers for as low as US$123 each.  Each on-boarding manager will receive training on how to be an effective leader and manager on 20 research-driven training modules throughout an entire year.  Companies using this series of training include Microsoft, Ogilvy & Mather, Johnson & Johnson and may more.  Find out more by e-mailing .

How to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude

by c.j. Ng


     Based on recent studies by Leadership IQ tracking over 20,000 new hires, 46% of new hires will fail within 18 months.  What is even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill.  The attitudinal deficits include:

  • A lack of coachability;

  • Low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.


     In our 2012 survey of 250 HR and hiring managers in China, we got the following responses:

  • 35.33% of new employees will not perform to expectations within a reasonable amount of time;

  • Only 46.83% of the respondents' companies will systematically find out how they can improve future hiring processes when new hires leave within their probation period;

  • When new employees don't perform to expectations, it's due to attitude (and not skills) in 51.83% of the time;

  • Yet, 72.17% of the respondents based their hiring decisions on the skills and experience of the candidates, rather than their attitudes.


     In fact, according to research conducted by B L Associates, China's average staff turnover rate was 20% in 2011, ranging from 11% to as high as 40%.  China's HR and hiring managers can indeed do a lot to improve their hiring and staff retention performance.


     As Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO used to say, “we can change skill levels through training, but we can’t change attitude.”  Even if a new employee lacks the right skills, he can be trained if he has got great attitude and if he learns fast.  On the other hand, if you hire someone with great skills but a lousy attitude, you have got yourself a "talented terror". 


    And talented terrors are a lot much harder to deal with.


So What Kind of People Do I Need?

     While having a great attitude is important for your new hire to succeed with your company, the attitudes that fit in a company like Google will be very different from the most desired attitudes in a company like Apple.  You will need to identify what kinds of attitudes will work best for you, by finding out:
  1. What are some of the behaviours and attitudes that your top performers display, but are not displayed by your middle or bottom performers?
  2. What are some of the behaviours and attitudes that your bottom performers display, but are not displayed by your top or middle performers?
     As you might have guessed it, you want to hire people with the attitudes and behaviours displayed by your top performers, and avoid hiring those that displayed similar attitudes and behaviours as your bottom performers.
     Sometimes, the desired attitudes and behaviours of your new hires may even differ in different departments and teams in your company.  You may need to some internal interviewing of current top, middle and bottom performers to find out what those behaviours and attitudes are.

The Problem with Behavioural Interview Questions


     Once you have identified the desired attitudes you are looking for in new hires, the next step will be how you can design the right questions so that you can spot them in interviews.  This is actually very easily achieved, which unfortunately we usually screw up as we are being misled by so-called "behavioural-based interview" techniques.  


     Don't get me wrong, interviewing for past behaviours is very important and crucial in identifying the right attitudes.  The only problem here is that behaviour interview questions using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or BAR (Background, Action, Result) actually leads the interviewee to give you the answer you'd like to hear, instead of what actually happened.


     Let me explain.


    A typical behavioural interview question will go like “Could you tell me about a time you lacked the skills or knowledge to complete an assignment and how you overcame that.”


     Now if you were to seek for the results of the above action by asking "and how you overcame that". it is in essence a leading question.  Smart candidates will know instantly what answers you are looking for, and say what you want to hear, rather than what actually happened.


     An interview question that gives you a glimpse of the candidate's attitude will instead be like "“Could you tell me about a time you lacked the skills or knowledge to complete an assignment...”


     Just leave the question hanging and pause for the next 10 seconds.  Let the candidate fill in the void.  Candidates with a "problem-bringing" attitude will say something like:

  • “Happened all the time; that’s why I’m interviewing with you guys.”

  • “I told them to find somebody else.”

  • “That’s why we have customer service - let them figure it out.”


     While candidates with a "problem-solving" attitude are likely to say:

  • “I wasn’t afraid to admit that I lacked the skills I needed and was easily able to find a peer who caught me up to speed.”

  • “I enlisted the help of someone from corporate who was familiar with the tool I did not know how to use. I didn’t have to solve the problem from scratch, and it sure felt good to share the credit for a job well done.”


     By the way, the above statements are extracted from real candidates from actual job interviews.


The Good, The Bad, and the So-so Responses


     It is sometimes said that interviewing is a skill that needs a long time to master, and only the most skillful "master interviewers" can see through if the candidate can perform on the job or not.


     The fact is that most hiring processes have got at least 2 rounds of interviews: one by the recruitment manager, and the other the line manager of the employee.  If any one of them is not a "master interviewer", then you may either be missing your next top talent, or you could be hiring a complete dud.


     The good news is, you can actually systematically come up with standard answers to your interview questions. For example, if your question is "Could you tell me about the most difficult colleague you dealt with?", some sample answers could be:

  • Example of bad answer: "Oh, there was this jerk that does nothing but sucks up to the boss and takes all the credit"

  • Example of a so-so answer: "Some people are just difficult to deal with.  Maybe our horoscopes don't match.  Generally, I just try to avoid getting into conflicts with them."

  • Example of a good answer: "There was this colleague that just insists on doing things his way and couldn't get along with anyone.  However, I always try to see things from his point of view and give affirmation when he was right.  It's not easy, and I don't always succeed, but at least we found some ways where we can work together."

     If such "standard questions" and "model answers" can be shared with the respective interviewers, you then could achieve a level of consistency of the candidates you hire.


     Some hiring managers may be worried that if such "hiring for attitude" questions are leaked to potential candidates, then they could be able to prepare their own "standard answers" that you want to hear, and not what actually happened.  The good news is that you can vary the questions and add enough questions such that there's no way that a candidate could pre-empt all of your questions.


     Need help in formulating your hiring strategy so that you achieve greater success with your new hires?  Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: 12 Jun 2012

How to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude

  • How to identify the best candidate with the best-fit attitude instantly;
  • Why behavioural interview techniques such as "STAR" and "BAR" can actually lead the candidate to tell you what you want to hear, rather than telling you what actually happened; and

  • How by having a set of "standard questions and "model answers" you can make every interviewer in your company achieve a consistent level of hiring the best candidates with the best attitudes


VENUE:  Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 •  番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Tuesday, 12 Jun 2012

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.




     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to


     Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Upcoming Events


     In case you'd like to know what other public events we have, here's a snapshot of what's coming:


    • Simple and Practical Ways to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude (Chinese)
      《成功招聘高绩效、高敬业员工的简单技巧》 15 May 2012 (Shanghai)

    • Simple and Practical Ways to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude (Chinese)
      《成功招聘高绩效、高敬业员工的简单技巧》 23 May 2012 (Wuxi)

    • How to Lead and Motivate Your Gen Y Employees to Exceptional Performance (Chinese)
      《如何激励、领导80、90后员工发挥潜能,大幅度提高新生代敬业度》 25 May 2012 (Shanghai)

    • How to Hire High-Performance and Highly-Engaged Sales People (Chinese) 
      《如何招聘高绩效、高敬业的销售员工》 8 Jun 2012 (Shanghai)

    • How to Hire Highly Engaged Employees with Great Attitude (English)
      《如何招聘态度积极、高敬业员工》 12 Jun 2012 (Shanghai)

    • How to Make Your Own Movie to Develop Highly Productive Corporate Cultures (Chinese)
      《如何通过微电影打造高绩效企业文化》 22 Jun 2012 (Shanghai)  

    • Become the Leader that Everyone Wants to Follow (Chinese)
      《如何成为每个人都想跟随的领导》 13 July 2012 (Shanghai)

    • Inspire and Influence Your Employees to Exceptional Performance
      《用启发的方式引导团队,创造骄人绩效》  27 July 2012 (Shanghai)


     Simply e-mail your enquiries to to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries. Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.


Tips for Hiring Managers:

Have You Ever Thought About the Cost of Hiring the Wrong Salesperson?


By Barry Shamis

Edited by c.j. Ng


You hire John to sell in your Shanghai office.  After a month it doesn't look good.  After 90 days it is really bad.  At six months you give up and let John go.


This all too familiar scenario happens time and time again.  Unfortunately, you get lulled into believing that all you lost was six months of salary and benefits.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to salary and benefits you lost six full months of sales opportunities, management time, administrative costs and training costs. (See the list below for details)

And these are just the obvious costs.  When accounting for the costs (both real costs, such as time taken to select and recruit a replacement, and also opportunity costs, such as lost productivity), the cost of employee turnover to for-profit organizations has been estimated to as high as 150% of the employees' remuneration package, or more.


There are both direct and indirect costs.  Direct costs relate to the leaving costs, replacement costs and transitions costs, and indirect costs relate to the loss of production, reduced performance levels, unnecessary overtime and low morale.

For years I have listened to sales managers talk about hiring five and keeping one good person.  This is a terrifically costly way to do business.  Let's translate some of the costs mentioned above to see just how much this flawed strategy is costing you.

Let's look at a salesperson with a $40,000 base salary and an annual quota of $500,000.  Salary and benefits for six months cost $27,000.  It costs you $5,000 to recruit the person.  You spent $3000 on training classes and materials.  And those are just the hard dollar costs.

Your soft costs begin with lost opportunity.  If John had been successful, how much revenue would he have generated?  You have to add 50% of your annual quota to the total for lost opportunity.  (Cost $250,000)


How about your time?  Would you have been more productive using your time working with someone who was generating revenue?  (Cost 15% of your annual compensation ($17,000))


And the two real intangibles in this equation are employee morale and customer cost.  Your good employees resent having a non-performer on the staff.  It makes them look bad and they have to work harder as a result. And, there is cost with your customers as well.  They have to deal with a sub-par person, which can sour the relationship.  (Cost: What is the cost of one lost customer?)


Your cost of one hiring mistake is roughly $302,000 without counting the cost of low employee morale or lost customers.  And here is the really sad part, if you do make this hiring mistake, you have to do it all over again doubling all the numbers!  How does $604,000 for each hiring mistake sound?  Click here to use the Real Cost Calculator of Hiring Mistakes to determine your actual exposure.

Now you can see why the "hire a bunch and keep a few" staffing strategy is a mistake.  The good news is you are on your way to fixing the situation as we speak.  The first step in putting a great hiring process in place is to understand that you need one.  Once you realize the economic impact on your business, you're ready to take the steps necessary to get on track.

Your best next step is to invest in your education.  The more you know about recruiting and hiring good sales people, the better chance you have of building a winning sales team.  If you are not expanding your knowledge base, and when you compete against someone who is, then the outcome is fairly certain.


"A top quartile performing salesperson is 14 times more productive than an average performer."
McKinsey Quarterly

Costs of a Bad Sales Hire    
Lost Opportunity Management Time Administrative Costs
Missed deals High maintenance Separation processing
Lost deals Less time for top performers Discipline & termination
Vacancy Costs Training Costs Customer Costs
Missed opportunities Require more training Customer complaints
Inadequate coverage Slower time to productivity Satisfaction erosion
Replacement Costs Employee Morale Competitive Advantage
Recruiting Lower team achievement Lower ROI on employee
Management time Resented by top performers Lose sales opportunities


If you would like to find out how you can hire the right sales person for your team, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia.  LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail or visit



Mailing Address: Shui Cheng Nan Road 51 Lane No. 9 Suite 202 Shanghai 201103 China