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Identifying Grit (Bad Employees) in Existing and Potential Staff – And Recognizing The Ones You Don’t Need Anymore

Grit is a concept that is not talked about nearly enough in hiring and HR circles. We tend to look for quantifiable skills and certifications that prove competency, instead of looking for characteristics that could offer excellence. Grit is one of those characteristics, and one that I believe we should all be looking for when recruiting and promoting within our organizations. So, if not by applications, stats, or reports, how do you recognize bad employees (aka Grit)?

Grit is perseverance. It is an unrelenting pursuit of your ambitions even when circumstances might make it seem as if those goals are unattainable. People with grit are grinders, they push through each day while always keeping an eye on the ultimate goal, even in the face of discouragement. These are the people who can be a huge asset to an organization.

Hiring an EmployeeOne of the things that people with grit excel at doing is assessing a situation through a different lens than many of their peers might. Instead of being frightened away or disheartened by tough situations, people with grit disassemble those situations down to their constituent parts. They look at what is out of their control and discard it, and instead turn their attention to the things that are still within their influence, and focus on surpassing those obstacles that they are able to tackle. This is an extremely effective strategy that many can articulate, but which few can execute.

One of the reasons you need to learn to look for grit, and to know it when you see it, is that it may be the best single character trait for predicting the success of an individual employee. Characteristics like IQ and education are obviously important, but in isolation, the best recruiters look for grit instead. This is because gritty people don’t look at failures as negatives. Instead, they turn them into actionable positives, learning from their mistakes and finding ways to succeed when other might throw in the towel.

The reality is that almost every job is going to include some tough times. When you realize that over 50% of turnover related to resignations takes place within a year of employment, it quickly becomes apparent how grit could help your bottom line. Would you rather hire someone who will look for greener pastures the first time something goes wrong? And then have to pay to recruit and train someone else? Or do you want the employee that will grit his or her teeth, get down to business, and find a way to succeed where others failed. That’s what grit offers.

Grit is not a measurable that can be quantified in the way many other characteristics used by recruiters can be. Instead, you need to delve deep in interviews to understand the level of grit possessed by a candidate. Ask questions about times when there were obstacles in a candidate’s path and how they surpassed them, or about how they’ve succeeded when failure seemed imminent. Ask about the most difficult times in their careers and how they got through them, and you might start to get a feel for their grit.

Another component to grit is the passion that a candidate has for a position. Grit and passion go hand in hand. Ask a candidate why he or she might want to work for your company, and about what excites him or her about your organization. Watch their body language, listen to their tone, and pay attention to their words, and you may be able to construct a picture of their passion for the job.

Hiring is brutally hard these days. It is a highly competitive marketplace with the best candidates being snapped up quickly. Don’t restrict your hiring practices so tightly that you miss out on these gritty candidates who could have real passion for your company. By paying attention to these qualities, you could find an employee with a true chance to excel, who may very well be overlooked by your competitors.

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Author: Hudson Piccini

Hudson Cynar, a Harvard University alumna and the owner of three prosperous enterprises, is a distinguished business consultant, author, and writer. Her expertise spans multiple business sectors, with a particular emphasis on storage containers, commercial copiers, payroll services, and medical billing software. Dedicatedly investing thousands of hours into product and service research, Hudson crafts insightful reviews to guide entrepreneurs in making informed decisions for their businesses.