Skills are Important, but Attitude is Critical

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The title of a blog entry at Harvard Business Review caught my eye, "Hiring for Attitude, Train for Skill" the other day. It is a terrific article that I would recommend to all of you. The article highlights three different examples of where companies are hiring people for their attitude and not for their skills…and getting great results.
 
One of my favorite quotes in this article is, "…you can't create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you build something special, distinctive, and compelling in the workplace."  I completely agree.  The people that have impressed me the most at the workplaces in my career are those with a terrific attitude.  Think about it a positive experience working with someone in your past.  Are they memorable because of their skills, or are they memorable because of their attitude?  It may even be both…but generally speaking, attitude tops all.  

 
This experience holds true for the customers who contact us through a contact center. The agents that are there to handle each customer are remembered because of their attitude and not because of their skill. It is expected that they will help the customer. It is expected that they will know how to do their job. But good service marks are almost always given to those agents who do their job with a terrific attitude that comes across on the contact. There are hundreds, even thousands of contacts with your organization every day through the contact center. Is each contact getting handled by someone with a great attitude?  
 
A terrific attitude cannot be taught or forced on someone…it comes with them when you hired them.  Forcing a good attitude on someone where it doesn't exist only works temporarily and in the long term, the attitude will determine whether or not the agent will stick around. This is why hiring the right people in the contact center is critical to the operation. 
 
The point is that the attitude of the people that we invite into our workplace every day to do the job, is as critical as the job itself.  Hiring for attitude will improve your agent turnover, and improve your customer satisfaction.  What are you doing to make sure that you are hiring for attitude?  Do you do anything special or unique that you are willing to share with us here?