Human Resources isn’t just about getting the best people. Ask any seasoned HR professional whether the end-all and be-all about recruiting is merely a question of recruiting talent, skill, competence or any other attribute, and you’ll likely here a “HA!” I WISH” in response.
Actually, you might hear something a bit more colorful than that; though unlikely, as human resource folks are generally nice and prefer not to say “ARE YOU NUTS?” instead of “HA! I WISH.”
Here’s why: they know that to make recruiting work, the right fit must be there. That is, there must be an alignment between the contributions that an employee can make vs. what really needs to get done.
Quite frankly, if that fit isn’t there, then the whole scenario is designed for failure from day one. It’s really just a matter of time before a potential star performer becomes a disgruntled ex-employee; but usually not before all kinds of toxic drama unfolds, angry emails are sent back and forth, and there’s a great weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But all that aside, there’s still a deeper – more insightful, and yes, scarier – question to ask. WHY does this happen? WHY are round employees recruited to fit square spaces?
More times than not, the reason is HR most unnatural disaster: The Halo Effect.
The Halo Effect is why folks at the auto show put a blonde with measurements that make a Barbie look bloated and weary next to a car. It’s why most politicians seem to care about “the working family” because, well, if they’re so in touch with the needs of everyday citizens, then it just stands to reason that they’d be great on foreign policy or macroeconomic matters or environmental issues, right?
(Right? Hello? Anyone out there? EchooooOOoOoooooO..)
And of course, the Halo Effect is largely responsible – damn you Halo Effect, damn you! – for why many talented people are recruited for jobs, roles, projects or tasks that they struggle with (read: suck at). After all, as conventional thinking goes, Joe is a great project manager, so he’ll certainly be a fantastic program manager, right? And Debbie has such a warm personality that everyone in finance loves, so I’m sure she’ll make a fine Customer Support Supervisor, correct?.
Uhh…Not quite. In fact, Joe may turn out to be wildly incompetent at Program Management, and Debbie may be anything but a super Customer Support Supervisor.
The insight here isn’t – by any means — to disqualify transferable skills that people can and bring to a new job. Yes, it is possible that Joe can use his project management skills in program management, just as it’s possible that Debbie might be able to export her friendliness and warmth to a customer service department that needs it.
But to simply ASSUME that these skills seamlessly transfer from one work context to another (or even one personal or social context to another) is really wishful thinking.
And when it doesn’t work – which is often – it quickly turns into a whole different kind of thinking.
Angry thinking. Regretful thinking. I-Can’t-Believe-Joe-is-Such-an-Idiot-and-Debbie-is-such-a-total-*****” kind of thinking.
You don’t want that kind of thinking. And you don’t deserve it – and neither, frankly, do the employees who are put into positions where their former talents are, at best, neutralized and at worst, destructive.
So remember: only YOU can stop the ravages of the Halo Effect from turning your happy HR world into an unhappy HR warzone.
Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?