Ever buy a new car and suddenly see that same car – everywhere? That is because our brains cannot focus our attention on everything and so it prioritizes what is called executive control or attention control. This runs on autopilot but we influence it – it’s not objective. There is a famous psychological concept called the Self-Fulling Prophecy which helps to explain how our expectations sometimes create our future. But that’s nothing new, Jesus said “seek and ye shall find.” So what happens when out of fear we are seeking to avoid rather than to find?
As I discuss in The Talent War, you get what you seek. If you are worried about a bad hire you will hire the applicants who worry you the least. That might sound just fine – and it is. It’s fine. It’s ok. It’s how companies end up hiring mediocre talent. But we are not victims of our ideas and behavior, as I learned by working with and studying the Navy SEALs and other Special Operations Forces life is truly what you make of it. This applies to hiring as well.
When I was working with the Navy SEALs I was in charge of psychological screening tests, launching them, improving them, deciding what was or was not predictive of future job performance. That work has saved the US Navy tens of millions over the years. It has also helped to keep those most likely to fail from wasting months of their lives.
Hiring the Best
SEALs are not afraid of a bad hire, rather SEALs hire the best of the best. They do it by screening for the basics to rule out some people on the front end – that’s smart and it’s not based on fear, it’s based on probability. The Navy SEALs actually have data. I know because I analyzed it myself, thousands of people who had taken the assessment and completed the training program, or not. That data told us if the applicant has X or Y, they are 2x more or less likely to make it through. Make it through what? Make it through a process only the greats can endure. Why do they have a process that only the best of the best can make it through? Because unlike 95% of civilian screening processes, the Navy SEALs are seeking greatness.
They expect it. They seek it. They get it. It works because the Navy SEALs are arguably the most successful organization the world has ever seen – are you afraid of a bad hire or are you seeking greatness? Seek and ye shall find.
If you need help seeking greatness, I recommend the Elite Performance Indicator (EPI) which is modeled after highly successful work including Navy SEALs and Green Beret – but unlike what the SEALs and USASOC use, the EPI is available to you and can be applied in any adult workplace setting. It’s also an excellent tool to improve the workforce you already have – which are who will make the biggest difference in your organization over the next 6 months. A DEVGRU Navy SEAL, a senior leader of civilian recruiting, and I wrote a book.
Pick up a copy of our book The Talent War to learn more about the dangers of Fear-Based Hiring and how to make your organization what you want it to be. How to build your organization through people – your most valuable and most underutilized resource.
Dr. Josh Cotton is an expert in talent assessment and employee effectiveness. He has designed scientifically valid candidate selection practices for the US Navy SEALs and Fortune 100 companies, and has advised leaders at DuPont, Omnicom, CSX, and Flowserve.