The #1 Quality to Look for When Hiring

Author’s Note: The following is an excerpt from my book, How to Hire the Best: The Rural Business Owner’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top-Performing Employees

What is the most important quality to look for in a new hire?

Hint: It’s not skillset!

You can hire a candidate who has a great skillset and interviews well, only to discover their performance continually upsets, frustrates or disappoints you. Why is this? It all comes down to a lack of compatibility with your Immutable Laws.

What are your Immutable Laws?

Immutable Laws are your core values, your fundamental, deeply held beliefs, your highest priorities and the organizing principles that guide your actions.

Clarifying these prior to your next hire will dramatically improve your chances of hiring an employee you are proud to have on your team.

The challenge most of us have is that our Immutable Laws are so much a part of the fabric of who we are, that we have a hard time identifying them, much less putting them into written form to share publicly in our businesses.

We are happiest when operations in our business are in sync with our Immutable Laws. But, watch out…when one or more of our Immutable Laws is violated, we feel it. We get frustrated and angry.

One of my clients and I stumbled upon a powerful question for identifying our Immutable Laws:

What’s ticked you off recently?

Think about something an employee, customer or co-owner has done recently that really got under your skin. Chances are, one of your Immutable Laws was violated. Try to put words on the Immutable Law that was violated.

For example, one business owner shared with me that he was frustrated that his employees were showing up to work “around 8:00 a.m.” and often were about 5 minutes late. He had repeated discussions with them about the importance of showing up on time for work. Things would get better for a few days, but then the employees would be right back to old behaviors, strolling in a minute late, then 5 minutes late, etc.

I asked this owner what “showing up on time” means to him. His reply, “It means showing up 5 minutes early.” Aha! This was an unspoken Immutable Law for him. Once he clarified this Immutable Law with his employees, his better employees began showing up early. If they were “late,” they were arriving at 8:00 a.m.  The owner was much happier with this pattern of behavior from his employees.

Take a few moments to brainstorm your Immutable Laws. Then, observe yourself over the coming weeks. When do you feel proud of your business? Chances are, an Immutable Law is being honored. When are you ticked off? Chances are, an Immutable Law is being violated. Capture these Immutable Laws and add them to your list.

Eventually, you will want to narrow your list of Immutable Laws to no more than 3-5 of your most important Immutable Laws. A shorter list of Immutable Laws is easily remembered by you, your employees and your customers.

Narrowing your list and getting the wording right takes some time. So, start with brainstorming your list, then try it out for a while, making changes as you go.

Here are my Immutable Laws as examples to help you get started brainstorming yours (I’ve been refining these for several years now):

We attract Ideal Clients and serve the heck out of them!

We take care of our clients, devoting ourselves to supporting them in achieving their highest goals and being their best selves. Our Ideal Clients can count on us. We do what we say we're going to do.

Walk the talk, even when it's hard.

There’s no other way. Be real. Take risks. Be vulnerable.

Work hard, keep learning and have fun.

Celebrate WINS and intentionally do more of what works. Being in business is tough…do the Happy Dance whenever you can! Giving up is not an option. Persist and learn from mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities. Vent, learn and keep moving forward!

Work Supports Life…not the other way around.

Our work is in service of the 3 Fs: Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfillment—in your business and ours.

Be a Gift from our Gifts.

We seek opportunities to use our strengths to add value for our clients and our communities.

There are no ‘right or wrong’ Immutable Laws. Create the ones that are right for you and your business.

Only hire people whose Immutable Laws are well-matched with yours, even if that means passing up the applicant with the glowing resume because you just don’t feel like they get what you are about and what you are up to in your business.

Weed out employees who don’t hold your Immutable Laws. It doesn’t mean they are bad people. They just don’t have the same top 3-5 core values as you. Over time, you’ll have a leaner, higher functioning team that you’ll be proud of!

Here’s another tip: Employees who share your Immutable Laws are much more likely to stick around and be loyal to your company. They will be proud to work for you. They will have your back. Isn’t that what we all want from our teams?

For a thorough discussion of Immutable Laws, check out The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz.

About The Author

Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist and international best-selling author of the How to Hire the Best series and The 4 Week Vacation™, is the founder of Tap the Potential and host of the Profit by Design podcast. At Tap the Potential, we work to free business owners from the constant demands of a growing business.

We believe work supports life, not the other way around. Clients in our Better Business, Better Life coaching program have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than they’ve ever had. Next, we send them off on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate their hard-earned journey to take their life back!

Dr. Sabrina and her team at Tap the Potential are on a mission to change the story of entrepreneurship from one of long hours, grinding it out, to one of sustainably profitable businesses that support and enhance life. The Tap the Potential Solution™ and our Tap the Potential Family of Business Owners are disrupting small business as usual. We are on our way to making the Tap the Potential Solution™ the mainstream model for growing business.

By 2023, 150 Tap the Potential clients will have taken 4 Week Vacations. These are the trailblazers, role modeling what’s possible for entrepreneurs. In many entrepreneurial circles, it is becoming more and more common for one entrepreneur to ask another, “Have you taken a 4 Week Vacation™?” (as opposed to asking “How many employees do you have?” or “What is your annual revenue?”). Taking a fully unplugged 4 Week Vacation is rapidly becoming the recognized symbol of entrepreneurial success.

Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses—no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing—and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from strengths.

As The Business Psychologist, and with her years of driving profit in small businesses, Dr. Sabrina knows what it takes to find, keep, and motivate exceptional performance out of your biggest investment—team members.