“What I discovered, over several false hires, is that the skills are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, skills can be trained, sometimes skills are the least important part of the iceberg.”

Using the framework of intensiveness and expansiveness to match jobs to people and people to jobs. And avoiding the trap of hiring an intensive for an expansive job just because you meet another intensive in the wild and want to hang out with them.

Pace & Kyeli:


Transcript and Notes:


Recorded 22 May 2023.


Hi everyone, thanks for tuning in.

So today I want to talk about hiring the person you need. As an intensive. Hiring the person you need, you'd think that this would be fairly straightforward. But if you are someone who has ever tried to hire someone in the past, you will know that that is not necessarily the case.

So what does it mean, to hire someone you need? First of all, they need to be someone who has the skills to do the task. And when I first started looking into hiring someone, that's the all I thought I needed, was someone with skills. I had a bunch of tasks that need doing, anybody who had the skills, and you know, was reasonably compatible would probably do. No.

No, what I discovered, over several false hires, is that the skills are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, skills can be trained, sometimes skills are the least important part of the iceberg.

I hold that large companies that are afraid that they don't have enough good people in the pipeline for whatever kinds of jobs they want to hire for, would do well to create paid apprenticeship type programs. Now, I know that hiring moves really fast in a lot of companies, and maybe creating a program that generates people after a couple of years of training is not a thing that they're able to think about, because it's too long a timeline.

But maybe not. Because a lot of times companies are like, well, we need somebody but they need to have these skills instead of those skills. And everybody coming out of school has those skills instead of these skills. And so what do we do, there's nobody we can hire. And I'm like, find a bunch of people and offer to pay for their school in exchange for two years of work.

Pay for their schooling- not a bootcamp. Pay for their schooling. Work with the school to develop a curriculum, but make sure they come out of it with a legit degree. And have them commit to work for you for two years afterwards. And then pay them so well and treat them so well that they don't want to leave.

But let's say that you're not a big company, because most of my clients are not. Let's say you're not a big company. You are a one person company or a five person company or a twenty person company. And you need to hire someone, or several someones. What are you going to do? How do you know who to hire.

I'm going to talk in terms of hiring one person. And I'm going to talk in terms of hiring into a very, very small organization. But these principles hold the same. The first thing that I advise you do, after you write down all the things that you think you wish this person would do, is take a look at that list and see how many of those are intensive tasks and how many of them are expansive tasks. Sort it. See what you're dealing with.

If you've got a very evenly divided list, what you have is the beginnings of two job descriptions, even if they're part time. Because the way it works is intensives and expansives can fake the other one often, but they can only fake it when they're not under stress. And the minute they're under stress in their personal life or in their work life, whichever one they're faking, whichever one they're masking into, is the one that they'll lose.

So let's suppose you hire an intensive and you want someone who's really detail oriented, but also inspiring and visionary. That really detail oriented, inspiring visionary person you interview is an intensive, which means that the detail orientation is something that they have to work hard at. They spend extra energy making sure that all the i's are dotted and all the T's are crossed. And maybe it makes them feel good, but it's not their... it's not their their inherent way of being.

Now that's not true of all intensives. Remember, all the characteristics of intensiveness are kind of mix and match. It's more like a medical syndrome, you need a bunch of the things on the list, but there's no one who has all of them. And most people have some of the ones from the other set of characteristics. So you will find intensives, occasionally, who have turned their intensiveness to that detail orientation. In which case, you're lucky. You're fine. And you probably won't get the same kind of risk taking visionary behavior out of that person. You might, but you might not.

In most cases however, you hire an intensive, who seems to have those qualities of detail orientation, and then something goes wrong. You're on deadline at work. They're- it doesn't even have to be wrong. Maybe they're just having a baby at home. Whatever it is, something changes, they're under more stress. And the thing that goes first is the thing that they have to create out of whole cloth, that doesn't come naturally to them. So they start dropping the detail balls.

The detail piece is the piece that goes away, the visionary piece stays in place, but the follow through, falls away, and then you're like, Oh, you're not living up to your potential. And they're like, Yeah, I'm sorry, I'm really stressed out at home, or I'm really stressed out about our deadline or whatever.

And it becomes this vicious cycle, where now they know they're underperforming. And they're stressed out about that. And so they're more likely to drop the detail orientation, which is the key piece of their performance, etc, etc, and so on. So if you have important characteristics of the job that are on each side of the intensive-expansive line, you may get lucky. But more likely than not, you should just have two jobs, especially if it's an even split.

So sort all your characteristics intensive or expansive. And then you'll know, Okay, we're looking for an intensive probably. We're looking for an expansive, probably. Again, remember, these are generalizations. This whole system is generalizations. But you're probably looking for an intensive or you're probably looking for an expansive.

Now, if you are an intensive, and you're looking for an intensive, this next part is going to be easier, because intensives when we meet other intensives in the wild, we tend to get really excited because they get us, they understand us, and the world doesn't feel like that. And so we feel met and seen and heard and understood in that meeting, we are so happy. We are so excited, we are so jazzed to work with somebody else who's on our same wavelength who's simpatico, right.

So if you are truly looking for an intensive, that will work in your favor. But if you're an intensive and you're looking for an expansive, what will happen is that some intensives will come to the interview. Because they will look at the list and they'll think I probably could do that. Because they like your company. Because they know you, and they like you and they'd love to work for you. Something like that, right?

So you'll get some intensives. And you'll get some expansives. And the intensives, you'll feel that click with. And the expansives, you won't. The expansives, it'll feel a little bit off. A little bit soft, a little bit dead. You won't know how to connect. You won't know what's wrong, but you'll be like, I mean, they're fine on paper, and they seem really competent and pleasant, but I don't know, I just didn't have a vibe with them.

Well, yes, that's probably true. And that's probably Okay. You don't need to vibe with them, you do want to make sure that they're not going to be judgmental about your intensiveness. You want a high tolerance expansive. But you're probably not going to feel the same kind of click that you feel with an intensive and that's Okay. Because if you're hiring an expansive you're hiring to fill a gap in your own skill set. Or a gap in your own genius set, right, you may be able to do it, it's one of those just because you can doesn't mean you're the best person to.

And so you're gonna hire someone or you're at the point where you get to hire someone to do some of the tasks that are hardest for you to do. You want to hire someone who's going to love those tasks, who embraces those tasks, who gets this yummy, delicious sense of satisfaction from doing those tasks, ideally. And that's expansives.

Their idea of yummy and delicious is not as emphatic as our idea of yummy and delicious. The idea of yummy and delicious might be just a good job well done. But that's Okay. That's who they are. And we love them for it because- I don't know about you but I do not have a heart for fiddly details.

The things that I'm most likely to drop are fiddly details and when I have somebody else who handles the fiddly details for me, I am so much better at my own job. Because the fiddly details crawl around in the back of my head like, I don't know, roly polys or something. Decomposing bugs that decompose the thoughts and the feelings and the ideas and the inspirations I'm having just by hanging out there. Just by needing to be done. And then I avoid them and then they need to be done some more and the quality of my own work goes down.

So if you're hiring someone, and they're going to fill a skill gap, the odds are good that they won't feel like a really great like, yay jazzy, energized fit. There's going to be something that's a little more mellow about that and that's Okay.

The other thing I'll say here is absolutely do not use the assessment as a way of filtering your candidates. That is upside down and backwards. I believe that there is no personality assessment ever that should be used as a gatekeeping tool. Instead, What we want is bring the people in whose resumes and cover letters feel like a fit, have a conversation with them. And then have them take the assessment as part of their onboarding. As part of their getting to know who they are in the context of your team, and you getting to know who they are in the context of your team.

Find out are they a a ten? Are they a four? What does that mean for how you're going to support them? What does that mean for how you're going to nourish them? What does that mean for which tasks you're going to give them? To some extent, a job description needs to adapt to the person you hire. And to some extent, the person you hire needs to be the right fit to begin with.

So when you're thinking about hiring someone, it is absolutely important to know whether you're mostly hiring an intensive or an expansive set of qualities. And when they come on board, it is absolutely important to know who they are individually. What do those- what do those generalizations mean for them? Which pieces of the lists of characteristics are specific to them?

And what does that mean about how you are going to give them tasks and fit them into your workflow? Are they things they can pick up from someone else? Because they love doing them and someone else doesn't?

Are there things that would ordinarily go in that job description, but they don't really like doing those things? They could? But is there someone else who could do them? Can they swap with someone? Can you create flexibility in the team? Can you use your team to create a sense of collaboration? Hey, can you take this on for me? Hey, can I take that on for you? Back and forth, and back and forth until everybody's sorted out and kind of knows what kind of tasks are best for each of them.

If they're an intensive, you want to make sure they have novelty. If they're an expansive, you want to make sure they have consistency. But within that, what is it that this particular person needs, wants, desires? What makes them feel appreciated?

Is this basic HR stuff, yes. And the framework gives you some places to start thinking about it. When you hire the person you need, you hire someone who has a different worldview, often. So when you hire an expansive specifically, you're hiring someone who thinks differently from you, who likes doing different stuff. And you absolutely cannot make what Pace and Kyeli used to call "the usual error."

The usual error is this idea that everyone thinks and feels the way we do. That if I don't want to do it, nobody wants to do it. It's just a terrible task. It's despicable. Instead of thinking, Oh, I don't want to do it. But that other person who loves doing this stuff, let's let's work together, let's get someone in here who thinks differently, who feels differently. Which means that it's a process of constantly stepping, moving outside your own context, moving outside your own brain as a leader to offer things that you might not like doing to other people.

Now, maybe they don't like doing it either. And expansives will be less likely to tell you that. So you're going to create a whole concrete feedback system so that they can give you feedback in a way that feels requested.

There's so much more here, I could go on basically forever. But the crux of hiring- as opposed to employing- the crux of hiring someone that you need is to make sure you're asking for the right things. To make sure you're asking for something that will come in one person and not two. And then making sure you're not relying as much as you might think you should, on that emotional click.

Now, if they are mean or disdainful about who you are, how you are, that's not a good fit. But if they seem fine and are friendly, and kind and connected and personable and, or even just skilled, like sometimes people aren't personable, they're just good at what they do. That's fine too. As long as they respect you, and you respect them to begin with. As long as they have the skills, the actual skills.

So here's my pro tip. If you think you're gonna get caught up by that, put someone else in the room with you. Do a paired interview. Get a friend, a colleague. It doesn't have to be someone who works in your company. But somebody who's got a clear understanding of what the things are that you need, and what that would show up as in a person. Bring that person in to help you moderate that intensive meeting and intensive excitement that might cause you to hire someone who's not actually a fit for the job.

And if you meet an intensive in the interview process, who is not a fit for that job, keep their name. Stay in touch, make them into a colleague. Maybe you'll have a job for them later. But make sure you hire the person you need, at the time that you need, in the way that you need. And then onboard them robustly. Give them the tools they need, and set them up for success.

I know this sounds basic, and also it makes a huge difference to your company and to the world. I do a whole workshop on this. So this is just a tiny, tiny little piece of it. But absolutely positively you can hire the person you need and the framework will help you do it.

Thanks for tuning in. Talk with you soon.