3 Steps to hiring 'high performance' people


Vanessa_bennettIf every member of your staff were able to contribute an extra hour of effective productivity every day, imagine what that would do to your bottom line. The good news is that it’s absolutely possible. 

So what kind of qualities should you be looking for? Well obviously as a starting point you need people with relevant skills and experience to the position, but if that is all you are looking for, you may be setting your business up for sub-optimal productivity.So in order to maximize performance, we need to maximize energy. It is impossible to be productive without energy so the question is really how do we hire people who have more energy?

Look for people who  fit the pace of the business and the role

These issues go hand in hand. People who work more closely to their natural pace will have better time management and therefore accomplish more in less time. Remember from my previous columns that natural pace is a similar concept to focus time. If you have a short focus time, then manage your diary according to this and vice versa for slower paced people. 


It’s important to realize that many roles will require someone to be of a minimum or maximum personal pace for the person to do the role with ease. For example if you need someone to jump around between tasks easily, you may need to hire a faster paced person.

You might also want to make sure that the person will fit in with those around them, in terms of how they like to operate- again this comes down to personal pace. For example I’ve seen a situation where the leader had a natural pace of 93% and hired someone who had a natural pace of 27%. Now while the leader definitely needed someone slower to make sure the details were covered, it would have been better to hire someone at least 50% natural pace so that their behavior was a little more aligned with each other. Needless to say that this leader now puts all new candidates through the Inside 80 Personal pace calculator before making any final hiring decisions.

Identify people with a more positive mindset

Mental energy is a great way to improve energy and therefore productivity. Studies in positive psychology have shown that people who have a more positive mindset are more productive and more resilient than those with a more negative mindset. So looking for a “can-do” optimistic attitude is important. People who display passion for what they do both in and out of the workplace are also more likely to be positive.

You don’t need a degree is positive psychology to have experienced the effects of negative people in the workplace, who take everybody else’s energy down a few notches with them.

Choose candidates who look after their physical being

Another major source of energy is the way a person takes care of their physical being. For example do they exercise and eat right?

Is this one slightly controversial? Possibly. However, there are enough studies out there now showing that there are greater mental benefits to exercise (such as productivity, creativity and positivity) than physical benefits. If you ignore these studies, you may be putting the final nail in the sub-optimal performance coffin.

Now we are not saying we need to hire Olympians and models- far from it. We are saying that if you hire someone who has regular movement as part of their schedule, they have a higher chance of being more productive. It’s also a pretty good clue that the person has good time management skills too because let’s face it, no one actually has time to exercise. You need to create time for exercise.

And before the HR managers start getting uneasy, there are ways you can find out this information without having to ask the question directly. Basically those people who exercise know that it is beneficial to put this on their CV. Therefore, it may be listed under “other achievements” or “outside interests”. Or asking open questions about how they spend their free time may also get to the point.

Broadly speaking, if the CV or candidate is silent on the issue take note.

Once you’ve recruited

Obviously once you have the right people on the bus, it’s important that you provide an environment to help them to be their productive best. As a leader you should also be the productivity coach for your team or at least have access to one to help you.

For example, allowing your team to work at their natural pace, being flexible to allow them time to exercise and also ensuring people are doing tasks which energize them, will increase their performance. These strategies will also decrease their effort levels and chances of burnout.

Your naturally high performing staff will flourish and your bottom line will thank you for it.


Vanessa Bennett is chief executive officer of Inside80; a consultancy specialising in performance and productivity coaching. Vanessa was head of financial advisory services at Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) Australia for eight years, driving strategy for the firm’s financial adviser channel.

Prior to joining DFA Australia, Vanessa held various roles at Macquarie Bank including associate director, business development management, and technical manager.

Vanessa is also a health and lifestyle coach and a group fitness instructor at Fitness First.

3 Steps to hiring 'high performance' people
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