Thursday, April 17, 2008

Recruiting, promotions and other nonsense.

Just about everyone who has had a job has been through a job interview. What was your last one like? What was your worst experience?
I was in a company recently and had the opportunity to observe the recruitment of a number of people. The process was quite typical. A job specification was drawn up, sometimes by the last incumbent and sometimes by a 'specialist'. Some qualifications are decided on together with the usual candidates such as good communication skills etc.
An advert is placed and CV's or application forms start to roll in together with references.
There is then the quick sift to weed out the no-hoper's and a date is set for the interview or interviews. The person arrives and the recruiters get a 'feel' for the candidates with or without the aid of psychometrics through an interview. A decision is taken and the job offer is made and hey presto a new employee is recruited. Most are a variation on this theme.
I have conducted many such processes and observed quite a few. And the success rate of all this activity? It would be hard to argue that most recruitment processes do much more than recruit across a normal distribution. About 10-15% are great choices with an equal number being real dogs that you wished you hadn't bothered with and the remainder sort of average.
Whilst I was observing the recruiting process this time I wondered if the chances of recruiting real stars would change much if people were chosen at random from the final sift? I would hope that all that effort made a difference, but from experience and from what the MD was saying - 'It's difficult to get quality people' I wonder.
The same goes for promotions. People get promoted for a variety of reasons. Again about 10-15% were spot on and turned out to be stars. Sometimes some people get promoted who you think are dubious and find that they really rise to the position. And an equal number who you think will make good managers or leaders from their previous behaviour and attitude turn out to be surprisingly bad. As they say past and current performance is not an indicator of future performance.
More sophisticated processes have assessment centres but I am still left wondering as their success rate.
One model I like is to give people a go. Come in and do the job and then we will decide.

Often when dealing with prospective clients we offer to run a workshop / coaching sessions etc. and if they don't like it / it doesn't deliver we will walk away we won't charge. (This has never happened by the way we have always secured the contract).

You wouldn't buy a car without doing a test drive so why do the same with jobs and promotions?

There is only one way to tell if you have a potentially good leader for example. Put them in a position of leadership and see what happens.

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