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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is There a More Effective Method for Hiring Talent?



With companies like Google, Facebook and Apple aggressively seeking top talent, you have to wonder if there is a method to their success. Are the employees at those companies the reason for their success? Or is it the vision? Author and management consultant Peter Drucker said that too many companies focus on “who” to hire. He emphasized that businesses should focus first on “what” has to be done before you ever decide to choose “who”. 

Drucker disdains traditional hiring practices. He has dubbed them “creeping credentialism”, whereby employers focus on how applicants look on paper. He felt we have gotten ourselves into a trap when it comes to recruiting talent. In Managing in a Time of Great Change, he stated, “It’s easy to fall into the trap, because degrees are black-and-white. But it takes judgment to weigh a person’s contribution.”

When you look at the social dynamics in the US, you have to wonder if we (human beings) are as good at judging people as we think. While the fact that over 50% of marriages end in divorce is a sign of incorrect judgment is another article, it has some relevance in the conversation about poor judgment in the workforce. Most of us have little or no training in judging people. And we have very few tools that can judge future performance of an individual. Perhaps we need better tools instead of relying solely on the perspectives of human resources. 

As Drucker inferred, credentials from a highly respected university are not proof of future performance. In some companies, there are Ph.Ds who have poor social skills. They become liabilities to the corporation when it is difficult for them to collaborate with others.

From another perspective, Facebook is using extraordinarily difficult on line puzzles to test and attract top performing computer programmers.

From personal experience, I have done an Ink Blot test. The assessment was rather accurate in foretelling my personality type as well as the kind of work I would excel in. There are many other tools I have used or heard about that can support effective hiring practices instead of relying on whether or not HR felt chemistry with the applicant.   

More importantly, before you make up your mind about the ideal person, you will need to know what needs to be accomplished. If you are hiring a new CEO, will he be turning around an under performing organization? Or will she be responsible for global expansion? Clear answers to those questions will dictate “who” will be most appropriate.  However, too many companies presuppose what the ideal candidate will look like on paper before they fully understand what needs to be accomplished.

At the same time, there is another thought to consider. What is the culture and vision of your enterprise? Does your culture embrace change and career development by stretching people? How does your company reward people for making contributions outside of their job titles? Without a powerful vision that demands more from staff and management, people can comfortably fall into status quo.

Vision and strategy can shape culture. They also help your stakeholders understand why you exist. Get clear about why your organization exists and include tools to hire the best candidate. In the beginning, it may seem costly or time consuming. Except, it is not nearly as costly as making the wrong hire over and over.   

What do you think? Comment below. 

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