As a hiring manager, you’ve hired many people. Did all of them turn out to be good hires? Maybe a few were great, most average, and some… duds. Have you wondered, “How can I improve the quality of my hires?”

Most hiring managers hire candidates with the most strengths which they believe will help them excel. Why do many of them turn out to be average or underperformers?

I wondered too.

Traditional hiring is based on the answering one question, “What are the candidate’s known strengths and enablers that will help him/her to excel in this role?” Resumes are chockfull of accomplishments,  strengths, credentials, and glowing references… just like Mr./Ms. Wonderful. Most of us have the Halo bias – putting somebody on a pedestal because of one or two criteria we deem important, while ignoring their weaknesses. Candidates from top schools are automatically considered smart, capable, and destined to succeed. Does it automatically translate to superior performance? It often doesn’t.

I used “inversion thinking” to ask a different question, “What are the candidate’s weaknesses (vs. strengths) and disablers (vs. enablers) that will prevent him/her from excelling in this role?” Even the “smart” ones? Think about it. It is their weaknesses and disablers – most unknown to you, but nevertheless makes them less effective and inhibit their performance… preventing them from performing at their full potential, or preventing significant improvement in their performance.

Most traditional screening and interviewing rely on interviewers screening candidates, but… they only have the resume (about being Mr./Ms. Wonderful). Could they make better hiring decisions if they had insights into their hidden strengths, disablers and weaknesses? Absolutely!

Successes are enabled by strengths and disabled by weaknesses. For many leaders, their strengths carry them into mid-career… and then, most hit a plateau. Strengths don’t increase dramatically past mid-career. All of us have disablers and weaknesses – ignored for years in the hope that “they will go way” – but they usually don’t. The higher the position, the more likely the person will underperform because of his/her weaknesses. Conversely, in mid- to late-career, greater performance improvement comes identifying and mitigating their disablers and weaknesses. Think about it.

Strengths may propel them to high positions, but weaknesses and disablers will cause their fall.

We have found three areas that inhibit performance – firstly, the “silent killers of success” – issues within and around the candidate that could inhibit higher performance. Secondly, for business leaders, the individual’s poor relationship with money, and lack of business-mindedness become major inhibitors. Thirdly, how they use their smartness (leaders are generally smart) to enable greater success, or in disabling ways (arrogance, lone-ranger, poor team player, etc.). We have unique assessments that provide insights on all three areas for individuals.

When you have a slate of candidates, you could benefit from getting these reports on each candidate so you can explore those issues in greater detail with the candidates. Just like you discuss what is on their resume, you could discuss insights from these assessments that you deem appropriate. Innate strengths can be leveraged, and disablers and weaknesses can be mitigated.

Assessments for Business Leaders

There are many assessments, most focused on identifying your strengths, very few on weaknesses. Most are broad, providing bulky psychologist-written reports without practical help to implement the recommendations. I’ve taken many such assessments but found few of practical use.

 Strengths are advantageous in some situations, and disadvantageous in others. Same with weaknesses. We need assessments that examine a person’s strengths and weaknesses in specific contexts – I focused on the BUSINESS CONTEXT, identifying relevant factors that indicate each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, enablers and disablers. Why focus on disablers, baggage and weaknesses?

 Our strengths (and weaknesses) grow quickly during our early years. We learn to leverage our known strengths and enablers(repeatedly), while (mostly) ignoring our weaknesses, disablers and baggage. In mid-career, our strengths grow more slowly – don’t increase by 20% annually. On the other hand, our disablers and weaknesses we’ve been ignoring keep increasing our baggage. Our performance depends on our strengths AND weaknesses, enablers AND disablers…

 So, past your mid-career, identifying and getting rid of your weaknesses, disablers and baggage will improve your performance much more than simply leveraging your known strengths. Think about it…

 From my decades of experience (Boeing, Lucent, VC and 5 startups), extensive research, and the help of 2 psychologists, we’ve developed assessments for three areas that are most important to business leaders. See comments below.

  1. Business is about money – revenues, profits… A business leader’s relationship with money could enable or disable business success. Find out your relationship with money and business from this assessment: “Are you wired to succeed in business?” at: (81% certainty based on ~ 1000 test takers).
  2. Everybody has hidden strengths and weaknesses (which they often hide). You can find out how 20 different ‘silent killers of success’ enable or disable your success by taking this assessment:
  3. People who are aware of their intelligence, smartness and accomplishments have certain behaviors – behave in enabling or disabling ways. You can find out how ‘smartness’ affects you by taking this assessment of 16 factors:

 The better way to assess yourself, employees or potential hires is to also explore the person’s innate strengths, weaknesses and disablers (plus resume).

Improve yourself and your team smartly.

Prevent bad hires.