Finding—and keeping—the right employees takes preparation and tact.

These 10 tricks for making a successful match were discussed during a recent meeting of the A/E/C Project Management Association:

  1. Hire based on attitude, not only on skill set. “Bringing in a bad apple really messes things up,” says Bill Hinsley, a consultant and instructor with PSMJ. Every new person brings a different dynamic, and you want to make sure those dynamics aren't in conflict with each other because of character flaws.

  2. Look both at interpersonal skills and metrics. Know what soft skills you will want to measure when it comes time for a performance review, and know how you're going to measure them.

  3. Use a Harrison Assessments test. This looks at suitability, rather than eligibility, for a job. The test uses repetitive questioning and predictive analytics, combining human resources and psychology, to get at “how you would prefer to operate as a human being,” says Hinsley. “It’s impossible to cheat this test.”

  4. Know your span of control. A management term that assesses efficiency, this refers to the number of people under a managers direct control and will determine whether you need to hire more team members, or more people to manage more teams.

  5. Follow up with new hires. Be intentional about checking in on a regular basis. Every 30 days in the beginning is a good place to start.

  6. Understand your values by defining your market. PSMJ uses three variables to define market: geography, type of client, and type of professional services provided. Look at your day-to-day operations for proof that your values are ingrained and being practiced. (Don’t rely on your website to memorize your values; that copy typically is written by a professional writer outside of your organization.)

  7. Offer situational interviews. Throw a prospective employee into a real-world scenario. Pay close attention to the reaction, not only the outcome.

  8. Assess KPIs and KBIs. Key performance indicators are critical, but so are key behavioral indicators, such as continuously working to improve and collaborating with others.

  9. Give effective feedback. Use precise and constructive phrases to help employees know how they’re doing—and how to do better. Several inexpensive handbooks exist to help with providing explicit praise and offering suggestions for improvement.

  10. Protect egos. People are more willing to have a conversation about moving to a different position if the switch is presented as being a better fit instead of a fundamental disconnection.

And there’s always the “Mall Test,” says Hinsley.

This helps figure out whether a prospective employee will be good for the existing team. Hinsley recommends pretending that you see this person up ahead, walking toward you, while at a mall.

Do you cross the flow of traffic to say hello, asks Hinsley, “or do you turn into whatever store is on our right all of a sudden you're buying foot lotion or something because that's a lot better than going to see that person?”


If you end up with less money in your wallet, you have your answer.