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Four Core Activities of People Management

Adapted from First Break All The Rules by Marcus Brukingham

Core activites of people managment. Job placement resources

  • Select a Person
  • Set Expectations
  • Motivate the Person
  • Develop the Person

Conventional Wisdom encourages you to:

1. Select a person…based on his/her experience, intelligence, and determination.
2. Set Expectations…by defining the right steps.
3. Motivate a person…by helping him/her identify and overcome his/her weaknesses.
4. Develop the person…by helping him/her learn and get promoted.

“Revolutionary” insights common to great managers based on Gallup research:

People don’t change that much Don’t waste time trying to put in what’s not there Try to draw out what is there…that’s hard enough

These insights suggest a slightly different “twist” on the conventional wisdom with regards to the four core activities of people management.

1. When selecting someone, select for talent… not simply experience, intelligence, or determination.
2. When setting expectations, define outcomes…not the right steps.
3. When motivating someone, focus on strengths…not weaknesses.
4. When developing someone, they help him/her find the right fit…not simply the next rung on the ladder.

“Selecting for talent is the manager’s first and most important responsibility. If he/she fails to find people with the talents he/she needs, then everything else he/she does to help them grow will be as wasted as sunshine on barren ground.”

Interview Questions That Help Assess Self-Motivation

Generally, to get at this issue, you want to ask very open-ended questions in which you are not telegraphing in any way what the “right answer” is. Don’t expect the easy or “cliché” answer like “I’m motivated by a challenge.” Ask further, “What kind of challenges?” “Could you give me several examples from your work history?” etc.

  • What can you tell me about what is motivating you at this point in your life?
  • Could you give me two to three examples of when you were most motivated in a job? Least motivated? Why do you think this was so?
  • What kind of work situations in the past has brought forth your best efforts?
  • Which of your previous bosses did you find to be the best motivator? Why?
  • What is the best way to manage you? (or) How do you like to be managed?
  • In terms of your work history, what are you most proud of to date?
  • In terms of hours, what is a normal workweek for you?
  • Have you ever contemplated working for yourself? (If so, why? If no, why not?)
  • Aside from economic necessity, why do you work?

The best and most reliable method of assessing a person’s level of self-motivation is talking with the person’s previous bosses.

Signs of self-motivation:

  • A history of doing more than just what is required. Consistently exceeds expectations.
  • A history of working the amount of time/hours necessary to get the job/project done, not just the “required” hours.

Additional Tips:

  • Look for “yourself” earlier in your career.
  • High achievers are almost invariably self-motivated people. A history of high achievement suggests self-motivation.