When to build on candidates' positive attributes & when to let them go

Perfection is the absence of flaws and defects. Perfection has no gaps. Perfection needs no renovation. But perfection also lacks stability because it assumes that someone or something was always free of errors. It fails to recount the point at which that someone or something became perfect. And if it became perfect, was it really ever perfect at all? The fact of the matter is that perfection is nonexistent in the construction industry.

The nature of constructing and deconstructing until an object reaches the point of improvement from its original state is exactly why buildings keep going up and buildings keep coming down—it is cyclical. Frankly, construction proves Newton’s Third Law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Imperfection drives construction, and without it, this industry wouldn’t be lucrative.

As construction business owners and employees, our goal should be finding a way to make things better because we recognize that there is strength in growth. This notion is what drives construction talent acquisition and serves as the foundation for finding and building successful construction leaders.

The construction of talent is an ideology that transformed the way I view talent acquisition. Many times, I have found a candidate that was almost right for the position. For example, one project manager had 2 years of experience, was eager to learn, was a go-getter and was passionate about construction. She was an exceptional communicator, great at project scheduling and had reasonable salary requirements that matched what the company was willing to pay. There was one problem, though. She was weak in processing certain financial orders and needed guidance throughout the financial review process.

A project manager who doesn’t know how to manage finances is frequently given quick directions to the exit, without so much as a second glance. This is where today’s operational dilemma comes into play. Hiring managers think, “It costs time and money to train this person; we could find a project manager who has all of these attributes and skills and not have to train them,” or, “If we pay the money for her and she is lacking in x, y and z areas, then we should hire someone lower-level, train him/her and cut overhead by paying him/her less than what she would be offered.”

You can play the comparison game all day, but it all depends on where your company decides to place its value. If you place value on training and development, then eight times out of 10, you will be okay with developing this project manager because you know that one day soon, she will be great.

After all, she has the passion and drive, which is something that many people are missing. But if your company decides to spend more money on the seemingly perfect candidate who checks all the boxes and whom you won’t have to spend much effort training, then that’s great. However, let’s see if that person can actually perform.

I have nothing against the perfect candidate. Just remember that searching for perfection in a person is not sustainable or realistic. You may win a couple of times, but eventually, that well begins to run dry. In the candidate pool, every person is working on themselves, both personally and professionally. People have gaps that they are trying to fill, and organizations are no different.

Organizations aren’t just this systematic ambiguity of services, processes and money. Organizations are comprised of people who are working on the company itself and attempting to fill the gaps. Candidates are trying to find the right position, at the right time, that will help them grow and improve themselves. Inversely, organizations are trying to find the right person that will help them grow and improve the organization overall. Simply put, organizations and candidates just live on opposite sides of the mirror. When these parallels collide and you focus on growing talent, your organization just found another appreciable employee.

Times are changing, though. Now, hiring managers are transforming their perspectives and starting to view candidates as having the potential for greatness. Second glances are being given to deserving candidates. After all, great leaders are made, not born, right? Aside from believing in a candidate and giving him/her a chance, there is another key to utilizing this notion of constructing talent.

To achieve success, there must be a partnership between the executive team and the talent acquisition team. Many business leaders may question, “What does human resources know about whom I should hire?” If you have a strong talent acquisition team, they know the business, understand the workflow and follow the company’s strategic direction, know budgetary information necessary to create financially-savvy staffing plans and recruiting strategies and regularly conduct a needs and skills gap analysis to know how many new staff are needed, what skills the current staff possesses and what new talent is needed in order to help the business improve long term.

Human resources (HR) also knows what other companies are competitively offering their employees, which is something that business leaders are often blind to because they are seated so firmly within the organization. HR partners with the business in order to provide strategic value. What does HR know about the business? HR knows that people drive the bottom line. They are investments.

As Renee West of Luxor and Excalibur Hotel said, “You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.” People are human capital, and their knowledge has the most lasting value to your company. When HR and business leaders work together, they can build talent in the vision of where they are steering the company.

When businesses are driven toward achieving their vision and are relentless in the pursuit, they look for people who also share the same passion and drive. That passion and drive is what started the business, and it is what will continue to move the business toward pursuing a higher purpose. When you have employees who value excellence in everything they do, then building them to be great will prove to be of tremendous value for your organization.

Talented people are not perfect, but they are convicted and dedicated to a future goal. Talented people have an unrelenting desire to be better, and when they merge with an organization that is not afraid to build them according to this greater purpose, the organization begins to see the true significance of constructing talent long term and improving on any imperfections.