When you are working towards engaging your workforce, you might also look to add new employees or promote the most engaged employees you already have. Here is a simple outline for helping you identify what will make for more engaged employees.

Most static organizations — that is, organizations that are change-averse or that refuse to embrace new technologies, workforce trends, or market changes — evaluate the skills and education of candidates when determining whether they're suitable for hire or promotion. In these environments, job descriptions focus on what experience, education, and skills a candidate will need to have to be considered for a job.

In contrast, dynamic organizations — that is, organizations that are nimble and innovative, that embrace new technologies and approaches, and that are their market change leaders — couple this evaluation with defining behaviors and traits that correspond to success in a job and incorporate these behaviors and traits in their selection process.

Job descriptions in these environments include requirements for experience, education, and skills, but also outline the traits and behaviors a candidate must exhibit in order to be considered. Emphasis is on the things a candidate does — her accomplishments.

Use the acronym BEST to help you remember the process that managers should use to weave behaviors, education, skills, and traits into their employee selection and hiring process. BEST stands for the following:

  • Behavior: How a person acts or reacts to specific circumstances. Behavior is demonstrated through performance, actions, and conduct. It's seen by our clients, our co-workers, and ourselves. Examples of behavior include expressing oneself clearly, meeting project deadlines, and remaining calm under pressure. Behaviors are often dictated by traits.

  • Education: The information and knowledge a person carries with him. In other words, education is what people know, usually indicated by diplomas and certificates, but also through conversations.

    Examples of education include a master's degree in science and certification as a database administrator. Education is one of the primary reasons people are hired, but it ultimately plays a relatively small role in their success or failure (assuming, of course, that their education is adequate for the position in question).

  • Skills: What a person can do. In other words, skills pertain to a person's ability to function in a job and perform the duties assigned. A skill, which can be taught more easily than a behavior or a trait, becomes evident through activities or demonstrations. Examples of skills include technical writing, accurately interpreting lab results, and proficiency in Microsoft Excel.

  • Traits: Characteristics that define someone's personal nature. These may include integrity, honesty, accountability, enthusiasm, optimism, and so on. Traits are demonstrated through actions and behaviors.

Often, people get hired because of their education and/or skills. Based on exit interviews, however, the vast majority of employees who leave an organization or fail in a job do so not because of their education or skills, but because of their traits and behaviors, or their attitude.

Write a job description based on the BEST approach. Then use examples of BEST characteristics found in high-performing employees.