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That is the question* in human capital management.

Over the past decades, human capital management has taken on strategic significance in almost all our businesses and organizations. Leaders and managers must better define their human resources needs and fine-tune the way they manage them in order to keep them motivated or just to plain keep them.

Therefore, for most jobs/positions, a simple job description no longer meets the strategies dedicated to work organization. It is thus strongly recommended that this element be taken further. The elaboration of a job profile (i.e., the job’s purpose, the major responsibilities and the required knowledge, skills, and attitude) has become an essential part of the recruitment, induction, and management of human capital within companies.

Juggling this task is not always easy, given the multitude of other obligations that come with the role of manager and/or leader. Also, now we find ourselves in a labour shortage situation! We all have our own opinions on the causes of this human resources gap: the Covid-19 pandemic, government assistance programs, an aging population, etc.

In addition to being able to identify the cause(s) of this labour deficit, the need remains. It is therefore up to recruiting managers to get creative to increase the appeal of their company to job seekers. That’s quite a challenge!

And it is there, in that quest for creativity, that some leaders fall into the trap of lowering both their expectations and their hiring criteria. “We don’t have a choice; we’ll take what’s available…” some employers will say.

Having to lower selection criteria is an unfortunate situation. This levelling down forces the company to invest more in the induction and training of newcomers and to develop patience in reaching operational standards.

And it is in this very specific context related to this subjective obligation to lower your hiring criteria to compensate for this scarcity that my comments make sense. I am not one of those who believe that lowering selection criteria is a good strategy, but rather a means out of shear necessity.

But in the event that this becomes a must, and you have to choose between attitude or aptitude… my advice is: choose ATTIUDE! Although there are several writings dealing with the terms: attitude and aptitude, we can all agree that the former can be defined as a predisposition to act and/or way of being. While the latter is defined by the notion of a natural or acquired quality.

In my humble opinion, it is the attitude of the people, of the teams that make the efforts who eventually produce results. I would even say that it is the attitude that influences the efforts that lead to success.
A person’s aptitude may tell us that they have what it takes to “do the job”, but… will they do it? Let’s use the analogy of the paint (i.e., aptitude), the artist (i.e., attitude) and the painting (i.e., result). It is not the paint that makes the painting a work of art, it’s the artist!
It is with the attitude of our employees that we manage to meet production standards, quality, and even customer satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that aptitude is secondary in the list of criteria for selecting your employees. But how will you manage the choice between someone who wants to achieve something versus someone who is simply able to achieve something?

That is the question. And my response remains the same: choose ATTITUDE!

Jean-Marc Pépin, MBA
JM PÉPIN Services Conseils Inc., Partner
In collaboration with Créacor since 2004

JM Pépin Services Conseils Inc.

* Reference: W. Shakespeare- Hamlet, act III, Scene 1