Moneyball Hiring

By Maribeth Kuzmeski

When hiring people we often rely on intuition. Anyone who has hired people knows that on paper, an individual may look like a home run candidate. They seem smart, interview well, have a great resume, and seem motivated. Then they start the position, and after 3 months or so you find they may not be the right person for the job.

You may have heard of the Wonderlic Test given in the NFL to evaluate players entering the draft. All draft prospects are given the Wonderlic Test which is an IQ-type test used to measure the players’ aptitude for learning and problem solving. The possible score range is 1 to 50 (with 50 being perfect). But does it really predict whether they will be a great football player? Super Bowl champ Russell Wilson scored a 24. Terry Bradshaw a 16 (he won 4 Super Bowls) while Tony Romo scored a 37.

In baseball, if you read or watched Moneyball, a player’s contribution to the team was measured by how he affects runs – plain and simple. It was determined that this is measured best by on-base percentage (the percent of time that a player gets on base either through a hit or a walk.) Ultimately this measures the probability that the player will not make an out. It’s not subjective in nature. It also goes against traditional statistics like home runs, stolen bases or fielding ability. It’s not flair, or who they are dating (really, that seemed to be a criteria for confidence), or athleticism. The criteria they looked at, first and foremost, was on-base percentage. So what are your main criteria for evaluating talent?

In the financial services industry, an advisor is ultimately measured by client’s served and the coordinating money under management/account size (yes there are many other things that are important, but all the ranking of top financial advisors, like Barron’s Top 100 Financial Advisors, evaluate based on money under management). So, if the goal is to serve clients (with money under management), relationship skills more than anything else are required (although other elements are necessary, as they are in baseball).

So, if we had to choose one criteria for acquiring and maintaining relationships, it may be Social Intelligence. Yes, drive, persistence, motivation, intelligence, and product knowledge are important, but without the ability to build relationships it’s hard to survive in business. And social intelligence does not mean being an extrovert (in fact introverts many times have higher levels of SI). Social intelligence is the ability to connect and communicate. It is the ability to start and maintain relationships, pay attention to the perspective of the other person, and have the self-awareness to see how others are reacting.

Of course you want to hire someone who is motivated and willing to work hard. However, motivation without social intelligence is like swimming up stream. And, motivation comes and goes. Think of the longevity of New Year’s resolutions.

My assertion, after working with some incredibly successful businesspeople over the past 20 years, is that the ability to build and maintain relationships is the key to success. It IS social intelligence. There are always exceptions, but we should not bet on exceptions, as they may not be the norm.

Here are 2 social intelligence assessments that may be helpful in evaluating great potential financial advisors: Harvard-Developed Social Intelligence Test (simple, free, and takes 15 minutes) and FIRO-B (designed to be an assessment for future coaching of employees).  The goal is to give ourselves and our new hires the best chance for success. Good luck and good “Moneyball hiring!”

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One response on “Moneyball Hiring

  1. Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

    One huge problem with using “FIRO-B” or “Harvard-Developed Social Intelligence Test” is NEITHER “catches” job applicants who LIE on those questionnaires. As such, an applicant easily can (a) give dishonest answers – so make themselves seem “better or different” than applicant truly is & (b) those ‘tests’ will NOT “catch” them.
    Then, a company may hire an applicant who took those ‘tests’ – & quickly discover the applicant behaves vastly different than those ‘tests’ predicted.

    RECOMMENDATION = Only use a pre-employment test that has a scientifically researched method to “catch” applicants who try to lie on test or give dishonest answers. It took my approx. 6 months of research to devise such “Lie” or “Dishonesty” scores on my firm’s “Behavior Forecaster(tm) Test” & also “Dependability Forecaster(tm) Test.”

    If any reader wants to learn more, you can contact me — & I will EM my article entitled, “AVOID HIRING LIARS: A Few Pre-Employment Tests Help You Do That.”

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