Recruiting the Best

Posted by jlubans on May 08, 2017

Caption: Little Miss Brainy: Talking a pig out of a tree.

A BBC article, Happy Hiring, describes a technique one company uses to recruit staff. Timpson is the featured company. It sums up each recruit by applying the Mr. Men/Little Ms. characters (e.g. Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Chatterbox, Mr. Clever) to the interviewee.
Suzanne Bearne, the BBC writer, told me that “each of the recruiters/managers (at Timpson) has a page of Mr. Men characters in front of them, and they circle which one (or possibly several) the applicant is like.”
I suspect I was drawn to this since I use children’s books to help my students identify types of followers. “Simplistic!” you might mutter. Could be, but using children’s books has proven to be a helpful way for students to learn more about themselves and their colleagues in and out of the workplace.
The BBC article brought Southwest’s Herb Kelleher to mind.
When asked how he finds the right people for his airline, he replied “Hire attitude, train for skills.”
In my profession, we mostly did just the opposite. We hired for skills and gave attitude/personality a pass except in the most egregious cases of jerkitude.
I agree with Mr. Kelleher, you cannot train for attitude, you cannot train for compassion, and you cannot train for emotional intelligence. Of course one should try to sharpen existing levels of all these qualities; but if you excuse a weak attitude/personality at the interview then you will have a full time job repairing poor hiring decisions.
Worse, if after the hire you avoid the now-problem employee, you will soon have a miasmic pool of legacy employees dedicated to undermining every change initiative and improvement, and let’s not forget, chasing off your star employee, your “Mr. Good”, the kind of person that “will always open a door for you.”
I have long thought that the person that makes the feckless decision to hire a “Mr. Grumpy” or a “Mr. Fussy” or a “Little Miss Splendid” should be counseled not to do it again.
In last week’s class on the Democratic Workplace, I talked about various theories of followership, of conflict resolution, of likeability. Each set of theories charts “types” to raise our awareness of the people surrounding us at work. Are we a Sheep, a Star, or a Yes Man? Or, a Survivor?
Do we resolve conflict through collaborating, compromising or by running away?
Mr. Men characters are not exactly The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)! Nor are they like any other of the swarm of personality tests, all promising to separate winners from losers.
But, the testing industry should take notice. Results at Timpson seem mighty good: an innovative organization, strong return on investment, and considerable freedom for each worker.
I’ve taken the MBTI more than once; but I can never recall my “type”. – that alone must indicate a personality flaw!
One friend who swears by the MBTI and can recite the long list of characteristics for each type and who to mix with whom on task forces.
Another friend was able to score the “type” his boss wanted. In other words, he gamed the personality test.
In any case, the MBTI lumbers on. I suspect using the Mr. Men/Ms.Little characters may be quicker and more effective in identifying the people you want to work with.

Caption: Mr. Fussy dusting flowers.

N.B. My new book, Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, comes out in June 2017 as an e-book ($15.00) and a soft cover print-on-demand book, ($25.00). The print book will feature original illustrations by the renowned Béatrice Coron.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

« Prev itemNext item »


No comments yet. You can be the first!

Leave comment