What do you believe?

Topics: HRExaminer, by Joe Gerstandt

Joe Gerstandt, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

Joe Gerstandt, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

As part of a recent workshop for HR and talent folks, I facilitated a hiring decision simulation. After reviewing some CVs the workshop participants tried to reach a decision, and there was a lot of conversation about a couple of the imaginary candidates being “technically competent,” but also potentially “leaving bodies in their wake.” When I asked the participants whether technical competence or people skills were the most critical when considering an applicant (in this scenario for a mid-level management position) I was told that they both were important. Which I agree with.

But my question was which one was the most important.

And they did not really like my question. In fact, several flat-out refused to answer, claiming it was an unfair question. Maybe it is an unfair question, though I am not sure how.

One of the many collective delusions alive and well today is that we are awash in “facts.”

So we act like we do not have any fundamental beliefs about people or talent or work.

I personally do not think we have much in the way of facts. We certainly have access to more information than ever before, but the vast majority of that information is still open to interpretation. Interpretation heavily mediated by a person’s bedrock beliefs (conscious or not), worldview, and life experience. A typical resume is a perfect example of this.

Having now watched a whole bunch of hiring managers, HR and talent practitioners (who only care about the facts) review resumes and try to make hiring decisions, I know that the biggest variable in the hiring decision is not the candidates, but the folks on the other side. Not because they do not actually care about the facts, but because they select different facts and interpret selected facts differently.

Because they are different people.

We want a whole bunch of things from the people that are going to join our tribe. We want them to be technically competent and to have good people skills and to tell us we look like we have been working out, and on and on and on. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that most of us lean one way or another between technical competence and people skills, even if the lean is slight. Not because of science or data or research, but because of the way we were raised and because of our lived experience and because of who we are in general, and because of who we are in this moment.

Those beliefs orient us toward an answer about a candidate that has some of the important things but not all of the important things. This in turn illuminates for us the facts that matter.

What do you believe about people, about talent, about work?

What constitutes the ideal employee / manager in your mind?

Where does that ideal come from? Does it bring any limitations with it?

We already have created workplaces where we have to pretend that emotion does not exist (even as it rages on all around us), now we seem to be doing the same with belief.

Do you have clarity on what you believe, or do your beliefs have you?

Read previous post:
HRExaminer Radio: Episode #165: Candace Osunsade

Candace Osunsade is SVP and Chief of Staff of the National Aquarium. Candace has been a strategic business partner and...