Over the years, I have hired many people. As a manager, it is arguably the most important task that we will ever undertake, yet it is a task for which many people are largely unqualified and have minimal training.

I have seen organizations go through a rigorous selection process, and, as a result, hire the “best” candidate. That sounds very reasonable, until you consider the possibility that maybe even the best candidate on paper — the one with all the correct so-called “hard” skills — was not the right candidate.

The soft skills. Of course, the hard skills are important. Without them, the individual could very well be doomed to failure. But the soft skills are critical as well. It is also possible, that someone with all the right hard skills will still be challenged to deliver due to any number of influences “beyond their control.”

Which begs the question, what is in their control?

I’m a firm believer that the only thing that we are in control of is our own behavior and that our behavior is made up of five key pillars:

  • what we say
  • how we say it
  • facial expressions
  • body language
  • work output

Think about these things for a moment. Can you come up with anything else that you are genuinely in control of?

Careful study. As a result, when hiring people for your contingent workforce program or for your wider organization, it is important to pay attention to these behavioral traits exhibited during the process and study them, because without positive attributes across all five categories, any worker (even those with stellar hard skills), is likely to struggle to deliver in a wider team and in keeping with your overall corporate culture.

And when it comes to the work output criteria, I would suggest that, in the absence of a crystal ball, past performance is the best indicator of future performance. So take output/deliverables-based references and set realistic performance expectations.

Finally, once you have made the right hire, practice what I believe are the four fundamental principles of excellent people management:

  • Hold regular one-on-ones
  • Provide regular and concise feedback
  • Coach
  • Delegate

Follow these hiring and management methods and presto, your program team will be an awesome one!