Hire for attitude and train for skill!

“Hire for attitude and train for skill” – this is an off-repeated directive from my boss. This simple sentence became the topic of the discussion during our commute back, between Murthy & I.

“How do we do this, tell me!” Challenged Murthy, as is the time-tested practice for one of us to broach up a topic for discussion; We were passing the Wipro lake.  “Let’s start by understanding each of the key thoughts. 1) Hire for Attitude 2) Train for skill” I said. “Let’s get to the database level and understand the 2 words in each thought. That surely holds the key” interjected Murthy, upholding his professional training as a DWBI guy.

“Let me take the Attitude part first as it is easier! All you have to do is to make a list of attitudes that you want and simply pick up the guy with the maximum number of hits in this checklist” Said I cheerily, overtaking a lowly car in Nanakramguda. “More importantly we should also make a list of attitudes that we do not want in our organization. Keeping the wrong attitudes at bay is certainly as important, if not more important, than getting the right attitudes” joined Murthy but not looking at the lowly car.

“So here is the question…what all will figure in our list of ‘Yes-Yes Attitudes’ and ‘No-No Attitudes’” I said thoughtfully. “All you have to do is to open up an excel sheet and type” ejaculated Murthy and laughed out aloud. I feigned sudden deafness and said “Enthusiasm” as I turned up the Narne road from the Darga.

“Quick learner” – Murthy

“Strong logic”

“Problem solving skill”


“Team player”

“Utilization”…I stared at Murthy for a FULL moment!

“Able to take stress”

“Good planner”

“Focused on goal”

“Ability to strategize”

“We can go on and on with these…there seem to be many qualities / behaviors that represent a Yes-Yes for us. Maybe we should prioritize” Murthy came back strongly. “Based on what” I asked. “Yes! Based on What?” He asked back. “Based on Organization’s goals, Organizational needs” I stuttered.

“Based on our fully laid out plan on where we will be 5 years from now, 10 years from now and the path we take to reach there” – Murthy, waiting for the cop’s signal at the Film Nagar junction. “That would simply mean that we take the sales plan, pick up skills, geographies, businesses etc and arrive at the total number” I added concentrating on this cop, who completely ignored my stare. “And break them up in to different roles like Developers, TLs, PMs, Senior Managers”. “I discontinued my stare at the Cop and stared at Murthy instead. He read the huge “Why” written all over my face and teased me by saying “To pick up the right guy for the right role by asking the right questions! Simple!” “Ah!” I went back to my cop-stare who finally acceded to my stare-request and waved us through in to the KBR Park road. “And that brings us to the first part of the first thought – Hire” added Murthy for good measure.

“Sir! I generally talk to a guy and kind of come to a conclusion that he is suitable or not. The only thing I do is to write down the top qualities that are required for my project” I replied. “And what happens if you are hiring for the bench / future projects, basically projects that you know nothing of?” queried the experienced ex-competency head.” Well! We just made our list right?! We now use it” I responded smartly. “My question is HOW do we do it? Don’t you think that you will make better hires if you are trained for this and trained right?” Murthy inquired.  “Absolutely! But I need a checklist…and don’t you say in an Excel sheet now! This checklist has to give me different questions targeting different attitudes we just spoke of” I said pushing my way thru, in between the two autos that were driving like tortoises opposite the GVK One. I also stared at the auto driver to convey my displeasure…….but from his looks, I gathered, he simply did not care.

“Three important additions to your checklist…1) They should contain suggested answers so that people can understand what the answers will mean and what attitude they relate to 2) They should be constantly updated and most important 3) They should not find their way in to Google search.” Murthy, collating all his thoughts. “ Give that idiot auto driver your meanest dagger look, Sir” I cried. “They should also list out questions and strategies on how to spot bad attitudes. You see most of us are prepared for questions that interviewers ask and hence it is difficult to go past their masks. You hire those guys and they mess up the projects as well as our reputations as a good reader of people and leave us. I hate such guys!” Murthy’s hurt showed in his face. I too was hurt that Murthy disregarded my request to throw his meanest dagger look at the other auto fellow…maybe my face did not show it.

“Okay, Let’s make a list of bad attitudes! Bad temper” I butt in.

“Bad dressing”

“No shaving & bad grooming” “That is not an attitude!” “That is fine. It is bad and that is what matters. I don’t want people who are badly groomed” I concluded.

“Okay, basically all negatives of the Yes-Yes list” continued Murthy.

“Dumb guys”

“Bad communicator. I can teach English, but when I say communicator, I mean inability to think thru normal project issues’”

“Egoist & one-upmanship”



“Lack of independence”


“Wow! This list seems to be getting bigger!” cut in Murthy.

“So basically, our action plan is simple.

  1. Fix the org-wide Yes-Yes attitudes & the No-No attitudes
  2. Develop questionnaires & answers
  3. Train people on them but keep them secret” I summarized as I turned in to Begumpet.

Five minutes of silence as the whole world stood still outside Shoppers Stop.

I broke the silence asking Murthy “What about the second thought – Train for skill?”

“We need something to discuss tomorrow, na?!” Saying this, Murthy switched on the FM radio as I eased my Xylo in to the traffic that started moving again.







4 responses to “Hire for attitude and train for skill!

  1. Sir,
    I agree with you….A skilled resource without a good attitude attitude is of no use…in fact he/she can be a risk/danger.
    Wish all the interviewers would be so good enough to judge the attitude of the candidates….
    But a resource with a good attitude is always dependable and can be an asset to the project/org.


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