I have a few thoughts I want to share with you today, and I promise they’re all related. The big umbrella idea is this:
Science knows an awful lot about human behavior.
Business ignores almost all of it.
Now, before you send me emails, I’m well aware of the amount of discussion about latest scientific theories around management that occur in training sessions, leadership magazines, and executive meetings. That’s not the problem — the problem is: most of this talk never translates into action.
I want to talk about WHY it never changes.
As an example, let’s discuss recruiting. When done internally or externally, this process is mostly terrible. And it’s not because of the recruiters, many of whom are amazing people (I know quite a few). The problem is the process itself. And I am talking about the entire process here — the big picture of how we find great people and then put them in the right places.
There’s a popular theory in talent management that says past performance is the best way to indicate future success. This is outdated science. Believe me, if a person is stuck in the wrong role, their failures in that position have absolutely no bearing on their ability to be successful in a spot that truly fits them.
What dictates that we must search/filter this way? It’s easier, sure, but it hurts us all in the long run.
In recruiting, we also often fall back on things like “years of experience.” But this is dangerous — and to be honest, pretty lazy. Why? Because the amount of years someone has done something says virtually nothing about how much they’ve learned doing it. As one of my invisible mentors has said, “Nine years of experience is very different from one year of experience, nine times.” Most times, “the process” doesn’t allow us to be very concerned with telling the difference.
Why do we continue doing things this way when we clearly know better?
If we’re being really honest, the reason WHY is that many of our companies have “policies” and “procedures” that actually inhibit us from treating people like human beings.
In that case, perhaps we should spend more time on working to change the policies.
I’m not placing the blame on any individual in particular here (other than the people who read this and continue to be blinded to it… I feel pretty good about blaming them). In many cases, it’s the way we’ve designed our organizations that’s the real culprit here.
Additional reading: Korn/Ferry has done some great work around “Agile Learning” that provides some insightful clues on how to reinvent recruiting. Check it out here.