June 07, 2023
What’s your superpower?
What are you exceptional at that 99% of the population cannot replicate?
I call this your 1% skillset.
This is a question I ask in interviews often, and I want to explain why.
Most leaders look at what people have done, not what they can do.
They judge actions, not potential.
This is a critical oversight, and could cost you dearly in margin and profitability as you add to your team.
When I ask the question rarely do people give concrete skills such as “I can code really well.”
I get answers like “I win people over.” or “I don’t let balls drop.” or “I can see the big picture.”
They usually pull on their soft-skills as their 1% skillset.
Their 1% is typically something they do well, and gravitate towards doing easily and efficiently.
This is why this question is important.
If you’re only looking for people who fit the role requirements, you’ll create bloat and inefficiency within your organization.
You need people with the skillset to do their job well and the skillset your organization needs to move the business forward.
Jim Collins famously wrote in his book Good to Great:
“People are not your most important asset. The right people are."
This is where great leaders separate themselves.
They excel at spotting the 1% skillset in people.
The 1% Skillset is Your Greatest Multiplier
Aligning 1% skillset in an organization creates a massive flywheel effect.
Look at Chick-Fil-A. Have you ever met an unhappy employee there? Of course not.
Importantly though, they don’t train for it.
They hire for it.
They only hire happy people because they know it creates a better customer experience.
“Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield."
— Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know
If you can align somebody’s 1% in an area that generates revenue or value, it will have exponential return thoughout your organization.
Aligning 1% Skillsets with Value & Profit
Just because someone has a 1% skillset that is needed in the organization doesn’t make it valuable.
1% skillsets must create of 1 of 2 things:
If you want to scale and create Optionality, this must be your goal.
The 1% Skillset Hiring Formula Defined
To nail hiring for the 1% skillset, there’s two things you need to know: the formula and the equation.
First, Here’s the formula breakdown:
Find Talent → Align Core Values → Uncover 1% Skillset → Revenue (R) or Perceived Value (PV)
And, here’s the equation:
Overlap of role + (Revenue Generation or Perceived Value) = Winning Equation
Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say your organization has a project manager. Clients expect project management but rarely stay because of it.
You need to find highly competent people who are detail oriented and can drive a project.
So let’s say you have two candidates for that PM role.
Candidate A has more experience in project management and their 1% skillset is “not letting balls drop.”
Candidate B has less experience but, their 1% skillset is “making people happy.”.
Who do you choose?
For me, it’s an easy choice.
You hire based on who creates the most impact for your bottom line and client experience.
I know this is an over simplification, but I’ve seen firsthand how the right talent has greatly increased my confidence in the businesses I own and my ability to exit day-to-day.
Recently we hired a new account person and were down to two candidates.
This role is highly focused on client experience and retention.
My team was pressing each candidate to try to understand their psyche and what makes them tick.
We were very much on the fence.
My CEO was pressing one of them and finally asked
“What makes you really upset? What really bothers you?”
His response “I can’t stand losing people.”
The choice was easy at that point.
Sometimes uncovering someone’s 1% skillset isn’t found by asking the question directly, but rather finding out what makes them tick, upset, nervous or excited.
Having the right people in the right seat is more than just finding people to get the job done.
It’s the difference between scaling lean or growing with bloat.
It’s the difference between you being stuck as the constant bottleneck and only driving force in your organization and Owner Optionality.