What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring … is not about finding people with the right experience. It's about finding people with the right mindset.

—Peter Carbonara, “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill”1

In every management position I've held, I've found that for potential new hires, an aptitude for learning is just as important as the degrees they've earned. Sometimes attitude and aptitude are the most important factors, because the technical aspects of certain positions can be taught. By surrounding yourself with smart people who display an eagerness to tackle new challenges, you can prepare your department not only to solve today's problems, but also to tackle tomorrow's challenges (even those that are still completely unknown).

At Oxygen, I was asked to take on risk management following the departure of the controller. I had no experience in this area (which focused on company insurance issues, such as workers' compensation and directors' and officers' insurance) but jumped at the chance to learn more and to expand my skill set. Not everyone is so eager to embrace such opportunities, though, especially when, at first glance, they don't seem to align with an employee's current interests or goals.

For example, while in this position I learned that a Millennial employee in finance had declined an invitation to pick up risk management skills because he thought the field sounded “boring.” After speaking with him about ...

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