Reduce Your Risks in Hiring Staff

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA,

Do you dread the hiring process more than a root canal or even phoning? If so, you are like most Financial Representatives (FRs) at Northwestern Mutual.


Here are many of the top concerns:

  • I will make (another) hiring mistake
  • I don’t have time to recruit or train
  • I might train someone and then they will leave
  • I may lose a lot of time and money
  • It seems like a lot of luck and guesswork
  • I don’t have much experience with hiring/successfully hiring
  • I don’t trust myself to make the right decision
  • Do I really need to hire staff
  • The additional overhead is a constant stress

Let’s focus on one common theme: how do you reduce your risks in hiring? There is one area that almost everyone neglects.

First, it’s important to understand that there are three measurable dimensions of people’s minds about which you need to gather data points throughout the hiring process:

  1. Thinking Mind
  2. Doing Mind
  3. Feeling Mind

The Thinking Mind is also known as the cognitive brain is our intelligence: to know, skills, thinking, truth, thought, knowing, thought. This part of the brain can change throughout the lifetime as we learn. It can be assessed through a multitude of standardized tests.

The Doing Mind – our conative brain, is how we instinctively take action: to act, talent, willing, goodness, volition, ethics, doing, behavior. We are born with a certain conation and it is hardwired. This part of the brain does not change throughout the lifetime. There is only one instrument that exists to measure this—the Kolbe Index A.

The Feeling Mind – our affective brain, is our personality: feeling, beauty, emotion, esthetics, caring, mood. To some degree this part of the brain can change throughout the lifetime. There are thousands of personality tests that can measure this part of the brain. The most common one used at Northwestern Mutual is the Culture Index.

(From “Conative Connection – Acting on Instincts” by Kathy Kolbe)

Historically for most, the hiring process has involved writing a position description, searching for candidates, looking at resumes, interviewing, checking references and testing personality and abilities. The part that is most often left out—the one area that almost everyone neglects—is conation (tested by the Kolbe Index A). This is simply one more data point to add to the process. It does not replace other assessment tools such as the Culture Index (a personality test). It complements all of the data collected so that you have as much information as possible before you decide who to hire.

A common mistake is “hiring the right person and then putting him or her into the wrong job, not fitting that person’s knack into the right niche,” according to Kolbe. You may have found someone truly exceptional who is then set up to fail because they are not suited to the specific role you need filled. How can you overcome this?

Thankfully, Kolbe and her team has spent decades studying this variable. “’I will’ is more important than IQ,” she writes. There is a third dimension of the mind, the Doing Mind, that has been left out of the process. It has to do with people’s creative instincts and it is entirely separate from thinking and feeling. In the workplace it is critical because it has to do with how and if we will get things done and the unique process we undergo.

Each of us starts the day with the same 100 units of energy. However, our tanks of energy vary drastically in the types and quantities of mental energies and how and when we use them. Gaining this insight during the hiring process can help you make a better decision. It can also help you best train and develop talent.

Even though “conation” is one of the English language’s 1000 least known words, that doesn’t mean that you can’t seize the opportunity to understand one of the most critical aspects of your candidates: how does each person do things naturally when free to be themselves? What is their modus operandi (MO)? The 36-question test will quickly and reliably give you the answers and insights you need so that job fit is assured.

According to Kolbe Corporation, “the measurable results of using the Kolbe System include athletes dramatically improving their records, salespeople bringing in more than 200 percent in new business, managers cutting turnover in half and cutting stress-related absenteeism altogether, students being able to get better grades, and companies reaching productivity goals for the first time in years.”

With the test being 96% accurate, you can predict how your staff will act and then set up an environment most conducive to allowing them to strive in the most natural way possible. Giving people the freedom to be themselves (including yourself) also produces a satisfying, empowered and fun work environment. No need to get a root canal to avoid what can be a positive and rewarding hiring process!

Coaching Tip Contact to have a Kolbe Index A code issued for you, your applicants and your current staff. (Please send full name and email address and the recipient will receive the code and instructions. The cost is $49.95 per code.) Alissa Gauger, MBA, is a Certified Kolbe Consultant who can help you take some of the guesswork out of hiring, training and development. You can even help yourself run a more authentic practice by learning your own MO. You might be surprised how simple changes can make running your practice easier and more effective.