2. Adam Jones writes and speaks
regularly on management,
leadership, and strategic
He is the organizational assessment
practice leader for Weaver and
Meet the Speaker
eserved. Do not duplicate or distribute without express permission.
4. The HR Challenge
Five Traits to Consider
Finding The Difference Makers
5. HR best practice:
» Talent acquisition
» Professional development
» Succession planning
The Labor Market : favors candidates, not
How do you find an edge in recruiting new
employees and maximizing the ones you
The HR Challenge: Find the Difference
6. In my experience, five traits
manifest themselves in the most
Five Traits to Consider
7. 1. Speed
Five Traits to Consider – a framework
We are going to define these
traits and consider how people
demonstrate these traits.
We are also going to talk
about discovering these traits –
teasing them out in
recruitment and observing
them in the workplace.
8. Definition: The ability to climb steep learning
curves quickly, to deliver projects related to
the new knowledge acquired and then to
replicate that experience.
People with speed do things fast, but it is a
particular kind of fast. They do not let the perfect
be the enemy of the good.
They calculate risks and proceed accordingly.
Enabling (or worse, accelerating) bad business
decisions is the anathema of Speed.
The Speed trait is not defined by immediate
action, but by thoughtful deliberation.
Think of speed not as act fast but learn fast.
“Automating a bad business
process only makes a bad
business process run faster.”
Photo by Digital Buggu from Pexels
11. Fast upward mobility and quick jumps to
greater levels of responsibility, may indicate
someone with inherent speed…or it may not.
To discover speed, talk about failure.
12. Discovering Speed
Speed in Action
Observable skills that contribute to Speed
Organization: The Speed superpower is organization. It’s remarkable how much more quickly
someone can learn and apply new knowledge in an environment where actions are
scheduled, planned, and uncluttered.
Risk Calculation: Moving with reckless abandon is not Speed. However, those who have
Speed are not risk averse. They calculate risks, gamble accordingly, explore all angles of a
problem, and always have a failure contingency.
Multiple Approaches: Speed manifests in flexibility of approach. They will also abandon or
recalibrate their own ideas. “Pride of authorship” does not afflict them.
Effective Meetings: The Speedy among us don’t waste time (theirs or yours). Meetings have
agendas, cadences, end points…and documentation.
13. Snap your fingers.
Hear that sound?
Who on your team does it
remind you of?
Go hire more people like
14. Snap is one of those “I know it when I see it”
How many times have you heard something
“How’s the new manager in facilities
“Oh, she’s tremendous. She just gets it.”
Definition: The ability to swiftly assess a situation,
analyze and act effectively.
15. How do you quantify someone who “gets it?”
Snap: Who “Gets It”
Snap is made up of several traits
that we regularly capture in
interviews and on performance
16. Snap: Who “Gets It?”
Still not helpful?
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Think of Snap as connective
Who on your team understands
your broader organization and
how the parts fit together?
17. Discovering Snap
Snap in Action
Observable skills that contribute to Snap
Cross Functionality: When your organization needs a team or task force to work across
departments with either complementary (or competing) objectives, the most productive
team members tend to be Snappy.
Identifying Unintended Consequences: Discussions of new projects or initiatives primarily focus
(correctly) on execution, goals, and objectives. Someone in the room needs to identify the
weaknesses, biases, and perverse incentives.
Idea Generation: People with Snap can supercharge a brainstorming session by both
generating ideas and finding strengths and weaknesses in competing concepts. They are
also willing to discard their own bad ideas; they don’t cling to pride of authorship.
Sense of Humor: Fun can be a legitimate corporate value (Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Etsy…).
Not everyone with a sharp sense of humor has the other attributes of Snap; but the humorless
almost never do.
18. Definition: The ability to communicate
effectively as a lead presenter.
Those who can lead a discussion, communicate
project or process details, entertain competing ideas
and facilitate solutions collaboratively are not easy
More than any of the other four traits, the ability to
own the platforms that you are provided can be the
difference between advancing into a leadership
position or not.
Platform may be the hardest trait to develop through
training and repetition. But it isn’t impossible.
20. Who do you know that
attacks the whiteboard?
How do the best managers
share the communication
What do you demand of a
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels
21. Discovering Platform
Platform in Action
Observable skills that contribute to Platform
Active Listening: Engagement is a two-way-street, and the best presenters are often the best
listeners. Listening for content, engagement and understanding is a learned skill.
Effective Translation: Platform depends on the ability to explain at the level of the audience’s
understanding, literally translating the sense of an idea from one language to another, even if
both languages are English! This is particularly important in technical fields like engineering, IT,
Confidence: Confidence is tangible; it springs from knowing your subject matter (including
knowing what you don’t know), understanding your audience, and practice. Practice.
Writing: Proficient writing directly correlates to strong presenting. Not all good writers have
Platform. But almost everyone with Platform writes well. The lack of writing and speaking ability
is the most career-limiting factor in advancing to a leadership level in an organization.
22. Of the following U.S. Presidents, who do you
believe has the best platform skills?
a. John F. Kennedy
b. Ronald Reagan
c. Bill Clinton
d. Barack Obama
POLLING QUESTION #1
23. Definition: The ability to understand and distill
the details of any task.
Taking time to understand a situation or
problem, delving into secondary or even
tertiary source material, and being able to
distill that knowledge in plain language to
others separates the difference makers.
To be successful, you must transform your
talent into expertise. Expertise is a function of
effort as much as intellect.
Today’s Management Mythology
1. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
(uhm, of course there is such a thing as a dumb
2. If you do not know, your best option is to say “I don’t
(well…right up to the point that it is your job to know)
26. Discovering Homework
Interview questions can tease out
homework capacity to an extent:
So, tell us what you know about our
But the questions a candidate asks you
are even more important. Give them
wide latitude to ask questions in any
interview. They are an important tell.
27. Discovering Homework
Homework in Action
Observable skills that contribute to Homework
Volunteer: Not only do those with Homework prepare, but their hands go up when a new
challenge needs to be attacked.
Solution Ready: Doing the reading is a minimal expectation in the workforce. Who on your
team delves into the issues and brings potential solutions? Even if those solutions are not the
right answer, they help move the ball forward.
Best Practice: One of the keys to business process improvement is staying ahead of the
industry curve. What are industry leaders and your competitors doing that you are not (and
vice-versa)? How can those lessons be best applied? The Homework colleagues help answer
Writing: Remember the distill part. The Homework traits depends on communicating acquired
knowledge. Homework colleagues communicate effectively in writing and provide context.
Even a reader with no previous knowledge will grasp the meaning.
28. When did you discover your own capacity for
a. Elementary School
b. High School
d. Graduate School
f. Early in My Career
g. Uhm, I still don’t do my homework
POLLING QUESTION #2
29. Definition: The ability to apply consistent and
unyielding effort to difficult issues.
Learning to Work
What’s required in the professional space is a
continuing willingness to work the problem.
Among people who exhibit persistence, it
becomes a continuing need to solve problems.
The psychological definition of persistence notes
that this need comes “in spite of fatigue or
“relentless” (my favorite…)
Persistence can be learned
behavior. It’s also perhaps the
easiest of the five traits to
Photo by Chrofit the man to call from Pexels
32. Discovering Persistence
Persistence in Action
Observable skills that contribute to Persistence
Day Two: The first day of any planning session, retreat, or brainstorming brings out everyone’s
best. The persistent shine on the second day. Who on your team contributes when the low-
hanging fruit has been picked and adrenaline and enthusiasm dwindle?
Finishing: Your colleagues with Persistence do not leave tasks undone. That seems both an
obvious and low bar for professional behavior, but not everyone clears it. The persistent thrive
on finishing, usually through goal setting and careful time management.
Contingencies: The persistent always have an alternative plan, and usually a third.
Remember, persistent does not mean stubborn. When they encounter a roadblock, they
respond by working the problem.
Calm Temperament: You have likely experienced the frantic problem solver colleague who
leaps into hero mode in a crisis. That’s usually a sign of false persistence (veering toward self-
aggrandizement). Look instead for the calm and even-keeled problem solvers. The persistent
tend to be excellent team players.
33. Of the Five Traits, which one has most
contributed to your professional success?
POLLING QUESTION #3
34. Speed, Snap, Platform, Homework and Persistence
are not concepts easily captured on a job
application. But they can be an effective
shorthand to describe those intangible traits that
set people apart.
Everyone has a different mix of these five traits,
very few folks exhibit all these traits and not all
organizations require all of them. Our objective is
to expand our thinking about the traits we recruit
for, develop and nurture. Every edge helps.