As human beings, we all have a unique attitude towards various things that we encounter. Attitude refers to the state of mind in different situations. Some people have a normalized attitude most times or change their attitudes depending on context or circumstances. Our attitude differs between person to person or place to place. It is about feeling or emotions about someone or something at that moment.
Skill relates to the application of a body of knowledge to perform an activity or a task. To execute an activity most proficiently, one must go through constant training to sharpen their skills. The speed and quality of output often measure one’s skills.
In the current experience economy, Retail employees are involved in constant interaction with customers. Else, they are involved in designing systems that Customer interacts digitally. Either way, customers must get a good feel of their interaction and it must leave a lasting experience in their minds. Customers then revisit in expectation of another good experience and so on.
Modern-day jobs are relationship and network-oriented and the thriving slogan of success is “People relate to People.” Any relationship can only thrive if attitudes are positive and soothing to fast forward further and build a strong bond of lasting value. Thus, attitudes become so essential and relevant for retail jobs as most often, all employees deal with customers directly in some form or other.
It may be easy to reskill a person or impart new skills absolutely from scratch, but it may not always be probable to change the attitude of a person in the near or medium term. People change their attitudes through constant persuasion or by experiencing negative results toward their current attitudes. Hence, it may often be challenging to re-attitude a person immediately in the near or medium-term and make him believe entirely in new behaviours.
In my personal experience, we changed strategies five years back to focus on attitude while hiring rather than skills. We imparted skills after hiring through the perpetual learning and development process in the public accounting firm that I am involved in. We saw dramatic positive results and to our surprise, three of our associates ranked among the top twenty ranks in the public accountant final examination two attempts back. One more dramatic effect that we noticed is that all our associates pass the examination, which has a low pass percentage of less than 10 percent at the national level.
While developing Retail ViVA, the 26 module Retail Management System, we have kept both factors in mind and designed robust Learning and Development module to skill and re-skill employees while also providing a collaborative working approach to improve attitudes or draw inspiration from employees who echo positive attitudes all the time.
In conclusion, I will weigh more on attitude while hiring rather than betting on skills. My experience has been that attitudes are slow to change while skills are fast to impart.