“Let’s Just Admit it…”
Dr. Steve Byrum, PhD
We have been too idealistic. We have worshipped at the altar of Jim Collins, and have built our work around the maxim of finding the “right person for the right seat on the bus.” In our hiring applications of the Judgment Index, we have delivered on the promise of helping organizations find best performers who will be good team members, and who will stay longer in a more engaged manner. We have staunchly advocated that it is better to wait for the ideal person to appear than to fill a slot with a warm body. Honestly, we are still firmly in the Jim Collins, “right person” camp. Our idealism is having a hard time going away.
But, we can’t help listening to our clients, and often sensing a deep emotion in what they are saying: “We’re ahead of the game if we can just get someone to show up dependably”; “We no longer have the luxury of choosing the best person of five, great candidates”; “The candidate pool is nowhere close to what we would like”; “We have markets in some cities where we are operating at 70% of needed staffing”; or “Companies and internet services who are supposed to be sending us good candidates are a churn of mediocrity.”
So, let’s just admit it… our ability to hire the “best of the best,” or even to hire those who stand near the top echelons of our best-performance templates has become significantly diminished. In spite of all of the frustrations involved, “taking what we can get” is becoming more and more the standard operating practice of many modern businesses.
This does not mean that assessment as part of the hiring process goes away. In fact, its value is greatly sustained in a new and vital way. Now, we may have to “settle for less,” but extremely high priority is now placed on knowing better what we are getting. Onboarding now takes on an even greater significance.
Even if the Judgment Index does not determine who is hired, it will allow managers and supervisors to know before the fact exactly where a new worker may have weaknesses that can be monitored and addressed. Awareness of development needs or potential performance inadequacies can be available in a preventative manner beginning the very first day of employment.
There is an old saying that says, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Meaning if you have to choose between a familiar but unpleasant situation and an unfamiliar situation, choose the familiar one because the unfamiliar situation may turn out to be worse. Having to take an employee with lesser abilities and lesser judgment is one thing, but not knowing exactly what these lesser capacities are can create problems of a whole different magnitude. Always see the Judgment Index as a tool to help with who you hire, but when control of who diminishes, be sure to let the tool help you with how your overall employment process moves into those essential, first movements of onboarding.
We have said, “What you see is not always what you get.” Now, we are often compelled to say, “I see what I am getting, and I wish it were more.” The Judgment Index helps us see a bit more—how we can monitor and develop weaknesses at the onset of employment, and—who knows—by helping a person grow and contribute in a positive manner it may be possible to gain a level of commitment and engagement that more than compensates for some lack in ability.