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Leadership IQ Study: Why new hires fail

A recent study by Leadership IQ, a global leadership training and research company, found that a distressingly high 46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. Although the figures are discouraging, the study found that new hires did not fail because of inadequate technical skills; instead, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list, flaws that were overlooked during the interview process.

The three-year study found that 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job, and only 11% because they lack the necessary technical skills.

According to a Leadership IQ news release, “The typical interview process fixates on ensuring that new hires are technically competent,” explains Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ. “But coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament are much more predictive of a new hires’ success or failure. Do technical skills really matter if the employee isn’t open to improving, alienates coworkers, lacks drive and has the wrong personality for the job?”

Managers who experienced significantly more hiring success than their peers emphasized interpersonal and motivational issues. “Highly perceptive and psychologically-savvy interviewers can assess employees’ likely performance on all of these issues,” explains Murphy. “But the majority of managers lack both the training to accurately read and assess candidates, and the confidence to act even when their assessments are correct.”

“Hiring failures can be prevented,” he notes. “If managers focus more of their interviewing energy on candidates’ coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament, they will see vast improvements in their hiring success. Technical competence remains the most popular subject of interviews because it’s easy to assess. But while technical competence is easy to assess, it’s a lousy predictor of whether a newly-hired employee will succeed or fail.”