I remain convinced that the selection of staff remains the single, most critical process that managers of all stripes are engaged in. When you select the right person for the right job everything else is a cakewalk. Make a wrong choice, and you’re usually in for a long haul of compensating for it until you pull the trigger in correcting it.

Systems abound for a myriad of different recruitment strategies so you find that “right person.” There are scores of training classes you can take to learn how to interview in the best possible way, asking open-ended, scenario questions which will illustrate for you the way a candidate thinks and makes decisions. There are great new assessment tests and tools, which will enable you to do very complete talent inventory on prospective candidates without tripping yourself up with any of those no-no questions we can no longer legally ask. A large part of our Managing with Aloha curriculum has to do with assuring those you hire share your values, and thus, will more predictably behave in the manner your business requires them to.

In short, you can get very sophisticated with discovering every facet of someone’s potential and capacity. Yet you can still end up making a hiring decision that won’t be a good one for either of you, if you ignore something that is pretty basic. Surprisingly, I have yet to find this in any training I’ve ever seen for recruitment, interview, selection, and hiring, yet in actual practice, I’ve learned that it is absolutely essential as the final deciding factor.

It’s not objective. It’s completely subjective. One can hope it’s about the “high road” of character, but in all truthfulness, it’s much closer to that shallowness of personality.

The final interview question you’ve got to ask, is one you need to ask of yourself. The question is, “Do I honestly like this person?” or even better, and especially if you feel they are a diamond in the rough needing your polishing, “Can I love this person?”

The final, deciding factor in hire or no-hire has to do with you, and your willingness as a manager to be their manager. This is someone who will now be a part of your life, and you a part of theirs. You have to be brutally honest with yourself in regard to your willingness to have that happen.

If you have a calling for management, you surely understand that it requires you to have a pretty intensive relationship with those you manage. You need to work with them through the good, the bad, and the ugly. You must be willing to train them, coach them, and mentor them. You have to be patient with their mistakes, struggle with them through the learning process of doing “with” and not “for” them, and be okay with fixing up their screw-ups and outright failures. You must be willing to discipline them should it become necessary to do so, without eroding their sense of self-esteem. You must want to see them succeed, and you must be quick to catch what they do right more than exclaim your disappointment in what they do wrong.

It is really, really hard to do those things, and do them with dignity, respect, and aloha for someone, if you simply don’t care for them all that much, or quirks of their personality honestly grate on you. If that’s the case, you’ll avoid them or neglect them, and those two behaviors just don’t cut it in good management.

People only get to be your most important asset, when your relationship with them as their manager is one you both enjoy, and one in which you’ll both thrive, learning and growing together through thick and thin. So before you extend that job offer, ask yourself: Can I love them?

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or visit her at www.managingwithaloha.com

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Where’s the boss?

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