by Tina Olivero

    The Art of Character Discernment

    Picking the Right People, Partners, Alliances and Colleagues.

    This article will save you time and money as you learn to discern people’s characters and finally pick the right partners, team players and business allies for your success. It will allow you to turn those daunting irresponsible, destructive and energy-draining relationships into a whole new working culture. That working culture is one that is supporting you, and surrounding you with clear, concise and competent characters. Would that be a welcome change? We thought so!

    One of my great teachers always said, “Hire slow and fire fast.” Another said, “turnover of staff is essential; otherwise, you are hanging onto people who hold back the goals and outcomes of the team.” Rather than feeling like we have to hold onto everyone we hire, it’s far more constructive to acknowledge the hiring mistake, deal with it immediately and move on. But what’s going to arm you and ensure those mistakes happen less often? How can you mitigate the hiring risk with sound character discernment? These are powerful questions.

    Character Discernment: Your guide to hiring “safe” people.

    Rather than continuously hiring people of ill character or “unsafe people,” here’s a list of 10 very powerful ways to identify the “character traits” that have substance, sustainability and competency at their core. Job competency is one thing and character is another – you will need both.

    The Respectful one – Respectful people often show clear evidence of mutual reciprocity, clues of give and take, and mutual understanding. Look for examples of responsibility, responsiveness and truth. Look for equality in relationships that have open communication and mutual support. With unsafe people, you will find clear evidence of a lack of these qualities like deflecting, vague answers, and projecting or blaming. If your potential employee is BLAMING his former boss, he’ll eventually be blaming you too! And even worse, if your potential employee is not working or working on his own, there’s probably a really good reason for that.

    The Team players – Entertain those who want to be a part of the team. Team players will have a “need” to be connected, are willing to ask for help and seek out support from colleagues and team. Look for the willingness and enthusiasm to collaborate, and the structures of collaboration they have succeeded in the past. They understand there is no “I” in team. Unsafe people will be loners, they think they can solve all problems for themselves and isolation is their common way of being. They are often intolerant of others and unwilling to compromise their views because they are “right.” These people avoid closeness and shun away from being open with real feelings.

    The IM-perfectionist – Look for those who do NOT have to be perfect. This person will ASK for feedback; they will want to see their blind spots, and they will be willing to laugh at their weaknesses or mistakes while being committed to improve at the same time. Look for the ones that don’t have it all together, are not self-righteous, but rather they are humble and open, admitting their weaknesses. This person will be more interested in DOING RIGHT rather than being RIGHT! Find out if this person is willing to make mistakes and learn from them, rather than living behind the façade of perfection. Perfectionists will do everything they can to keep the perfection mask intact, and they will be indignant if their character is questioned.

    The Humble servant – Safe people know that they are an important part of the project or mission. They are there to serve, to create and to contribute. They want to learn and grow in a way that serves the entire company. They realize that when one falls, they all fall. Beware of the loners, those who have to be the masters of the outcome, and for those who need all the credit. These individuals are often narcissistic; they have to prove they are competent because they don’t really feel competent. They will often show an air of grandiose superiority and have a pompous attitude of entitlement.

    The Positive person – Positive people look deep and have the strength to ask: What is possible? What can be done? What is the right way? Look strategically for those who can acknowledge “what is,” but extract the “what’s possible,” look for the positive and look at what CAN BE DONE! Critics will always point the finger at others, rather than take responsibility for what happens in their world. When someone can state the issue and also come forward with the solution – that’s powerful. Negative critics come in the room, criticizing the weather, the trip, the people, the news, the world, the company, the project, the process. Critics pick out all the negative things and harp on them over and over, staying angry and bitter. They are negative- energy vampires and suck the energy right out of the room. Say good-bye to negative Nellies, even if they are bringing in results. Ultimately, one negative person can poison the environment of an entire team.

    The Responsible one – Look for RESPONSE-ABLE people. These are the ones who are ABLE to RESPOND. These people are the ones who hit deadlines, deliver the goods on time and on budget, take responsibility when things go wrong and never blame or judge the outside world for the outcome. Look for people who show their dependability in the clearest ways. Unsafe irresponsibles, on the other hand, are a lot of work. The experience is like babysitting as they behave as grown-up children. They cannot take responsibility for deadlines or being on budget. They come up with all the reasons, justifications and excuses for the outcome.

    Integrity – Having integrity is the ability to HONOR your word as yourself. Characters of integrity do what they say they are going to do, when they say they will do it. Their word is all-important to those with integrity. While they may not keep every promise, their sincerityand commitment to the task is powerfully evident, even if they do miss one or two goals in every 30. People without integrity have to manipulate the world around them to be that way. Beware of the unsafe person who consistently says sorry but doesn’t change, transform or correct that behavior. The “I’m sorry” with no modification in behavior or outcome
    is clearly an unsafe person with no integrity. A lack of integrity will always lead to time delays, project overruns and a culture of demise.

    The Honest one – Honesty is the foundation of trust and evolution in any company. The well-being of finances, project success and company profitability all require high levels of honesty. While all of us exhibit certain levels of dishonesty, safe people will see dishonesty as something to modify and change, while unsafe people see dishonesty as a way to create desired outcomes.

    Learners and changers – Safe people will take on change as part of the process. They will take on learning not only in skills competence, but also in personality traits. Excavating the personality and revealing those things to learn about yourself is a very courageous thing to do, so safe people will often read self-help books, study personal development and learn from other great leaders.

    The leader – In this era of business, all members have to be leaders and entrepreneurial-minded, that means people who display signs of seeing the big picture while they pay attention to details. They are concerned about all other players and realize that when one wins, they all win. Leaders will be creative problem-solvers, creating the environment for self- expression and constantly seeking to improve and build. Unsafe people will put down ideas, become competitive, think small, hoard, gossip and back stab. They will flippantly put people down to position themselves as being up. They will find all the reasons “why not,” be overcautious and hold back progress.

    A Sustainable Corporate Culture

    While all of us have some of the traits listed above, what’s really important is to see in advance, unsafe people BEFORE they join the organization or become partners. Often we are so hell-bent on getting the job filled or the partnership in place that we overlook these important details, and it costs a lot more in the end. Finding the right people is simply the RIGHT thing to do. We must realize that character traits are critically important to your corporate team culture. Being informed and proactive will make all the difference. Once you have a team of safe people, then you have structure teams of extraordinary ability and power. What would happen in your organization if everyone took 100 per cent responsibility for the outcomes in front of them, and there was a “no blame” policy in place? Do you think that people would grow, evolve, get the jobs done faster, stay out of drama and be super-productive? You bet they would.

    So here’s the formula for sustainability:

    • Develop a strategy for discerning “safe characters” for your team.
    • When hiring, devise questions, tests and exercises that flush out “unsafe people.”
    • Develop a corporate culture where people take personal responsibility for all outcomes.
    • Develop a culture where there is a “no blame” policy.
    • Create a culture of feedback and constant improvement.
    • Celebrate mistakes and learn from them.
    • Integrate people who want to collaborate and work as a “team.”
    • Create an organization where everyone’s input is important and honored.
    • Celebrate “safe character traits” by highlighting them and following them.
    • Instill leadership at the level of every individual.

    How your organization performs is up to you and hiring the right people is one of the greatest assets you can bring to the table. Happy Hiring!

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