Back in the 1980’s, when I had one of my first jobs restoring a grand turn-of-the century estate  owned by a Vice-President at Morgan Stanley, one of many valuable lessons I learned from him was his hiring success. He had the pick of the litter. Ivy-League educated, wealthy connections, you name it. However, GPA and college brand meant little. What did he look for? Elbow grease. People whose drive and perseverance got things done. He, of course, practiced it equally as much as he believed in it.

This brief back story foreshadows what was actually already being studied by psychologists and other social scientists at the time. Grit. The word simply had different synonyms describing it in various studies such as “Beyonder Characteristics” and other research terms. Those studies never became mainstream. Now that Grit has been made familiar vernacular by Angela Duckworth’s bestseller, it is becoming an accepted business concept and team practice in leading businesses just like Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was a decade ago.

Grit research is continuing to be implemented in educational settings and businesses. There is robust science behind it, and companies need to build high-talent/high-performing teams better than their current hiring process is producing to outpace their competition or maintain a competitive advantage. Successful companies will implement a grit hiring methodology, monitor their outcomes, and continually fine tune the recruitment and development of top talent. How are the Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer, and Senior Managers in your company applying this knowledge?


If hiring for grit wasn’t challenging enough, the other uncertain hiring factor testing a precise hiring strategy is determining a sustainable method to hire and retain new millennial employees—-and of course only the grittiest ones. This purpose-seeking generational cohort presents with a veneer of grit when your company gives them a mission and can sustain their interest by inspiring their creativity and developing their growth mindset.

However, social science research also informs us that passion and motivation alone are insufficient in delivering consistent outstanding results.

Does their skill-set match the current objectives, company culture, and future strategic vision? Contrary to the stereotype that salary matters less to millennials, several large scale surveys have shown the opposite. How will you identify millennials who have realistic expectations for the seemingly competing interests of career development and work-life balance in your organization? How will you integrate them into your teams and organization, retain them, and repeatedly surpass your hiring outcomes?


The wrong questions=bad hires. If your interview questions do not tap the candidates grit and emotional intelligence in a standardized manner, you will never know if they are a match until it is too late. One needs to reveal the grit-rich details of measurable behavioral patterns and personality facets of potential candidates. What is the cost of a bad hire for your company? Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said bad hires cost his company over 100 million dollars over the years. A recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com featured in Fast Company reported that more than half of employers felt the effect of a bad hire, and one out of four companies said one bad hire cost them more than 50k each. How much do bad hires cost your company and how will you improve the precision of your hiring method?


There is a solid body of social science research that shows how specific personality attributes and life experiences shape peoples emotional intelligence. These take the form of measurable behaviors over time. That information can be applied to recruit and retain high performing employees with better precision. How standardized is your hiring process for top talent? Are you overly intuition-based? Are employees in leadership positions successfully developing high performing teams?

Even top companies are struggling with this issue evidenced by Fortune 100 Company’s annual reports littered with the words “retention and acquisition of top talent” as major risk factors for growth and hitting financial goals.

Risk mitigation is critical for companies to make these internal changes in hiring top talent. Here are a few first steps to invest in the people who will be the foundation of your company’s future leadership.

  • Schedule a presentation to learn more about behaviorally based recruiting and hiring.
  • Implement a research-informed interview procedure based on Grit research that can assess new hires in a standardized methodology whose outcomes can be tracked.
  • Consider going deeper in your company’s self-auditing analyses of hiring errors. Analyze a random sample of bad hires by having psychological autopsies conducted on them and learn from your hiring errors and save money.
  • Hire and build grit development in active high-performing teams. Invest in agile coaching for leaders, and have your leaders train your teams. Develop employee-centered actionable strategies to optimize your competitive advantage and growth objectives.


My research-based Hiring For Grit Protocol, is a multi-item questionnaire that discreetly taps into various personality facets, behaviors, and experiences derived from grit research. This interview protocol can be easily incorporated into your organization’s hiring process to recruit top talent.