People are like icebergs!

By Fernie Black

‘Good to Great’ written by Jim Collins is based on a study of 28 elite companies that went from good-to-great results and sustained those results for over 15 years. One of the unexpected yet simple lessons learned was ‘first who…then what!’ The researchers found that the good-to-great

companies “…first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it.” The moral of this analogy is simply that not just people but the right people are your most important asset!

The age-old challenge is how do you:

  • actually get the right people (recruitment & selection)
  • figure out what position to put them in (development & coaching) 
  • motivate them to perform at their best (performance management)
  • keep them (retention)

One of the solutions that good-to-great companies have uncovered and for those of us who haven’t yet discovered…the ‘secret’ that we should heed is – pay attention to behavioural traits! The old adage that companies ‘hire on technical abilities and fire on personality’ has never been truer. You can teach someone a technical skill and they can acquire qualifications, knowledge, experience and competency…but you can’t teach someone (at least not quickly or who is not willing) personal qualities, attributes, work ethics, values and an ability to learn. These elusive traits are ingrained in who you are – some believe set as early as age 7 and only slightly ‘change’ as a result of adaptation to environment.

So, how do organizations ensure that they’re hiring, developing, and retaining people with the right traits? Use a crystal ball? Definitely not – instead depend on scientifically proven assessment tools that provide reliable and valid data. Make decisions based on objective data versus ‘gut feelings’.

Think about it - people are like icebergs! We know that more is hidden than exposed. So it stands to reason that we need to lift the iceberg out of the water so that we aren’t basing critical people  decisions on just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Using an assessment tool provides powerful data to make objective ROI business decisions related to:

  • Hiring
  • Promoting
  • Developing
  • Coaching
  • Teaming
  • Succession and Workforce planning…

Imagine the impact on overall individual/team performance and organizational effectiveness of knowing what truly lies below the surface through the use of assessments!

You can teach a turkey to climb a tree, but it’s easier to hire a squirrel.’

(Spenser & Spencer 1993)  

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