Why is common sense not so “common”? Why is it so difficult for people to admit they made a mistake? Why is the world so obsessed with innovation and creativity to the point of rendering them meaningless concepts? Why does the phrase “results-oriented” have to be stipulated as a badge of honour given the alternative? Why is it that people who make decisions lie to themselves in thinking they are being rational or objective when the fact is that nobody who has a brain or a heart can be so? These and many more questions that defy logic will be discussed in this blog. I hope you will join me in a dialogue of discovery!
I’d like to begin by relating an experience I had a few years ago.
Having had more than twenty-five years experience in the field of strategic planning and human resource management, I was responsible for recruiting a Database Analyst for a human resource information system within a large organization. The hiring process was ridiculously supported by complex Xcel spreadsheets, which had a list of attribute, skill and knowledge requirements complicated by qualified ratings from 1-10 (subjectively applied). There were five people on the hiring committee including myself as Chair. After each interview, I was to take all the ratings sheets and average them. There were five interviews conducted. \
After the second interview, I had a feeling that this was to be ‘the one’. It was my gut feeling, based on no observable data that she would relate well to our staff and to me, she would be open to looking at different ways of solving problems and that she had the potential to blossom into a mentor for others. However, her ratings did not match my feeling about her.
After due process, reference checks etc. the person whose ratings were the highest – (with nobody even close) – had to be offered the job under the ‘rational’ rules embedded in the hiring policies of this organization. I had a negative feeling about this individual, but being the loyal foot soldier that I was, I respected and trusted the process and offered him the job. The two weeks that followed were filled with salary negotiations around a request for 25% above what we were prepared to offer; his requests (which felt like demands to me) for office space, equipment etc. which were beyond that prescribed for his position and finally his relating of his vision for the role – after he talked with some of our staff – which was not compatible with mine. None of this was articulated during the interview, despite the fact that he had opportunity to express it. I would certainly have entertained his requests were they those of a person for whom my ‘gut feel’ was positive. But, given my equivocal perceptions, I felt strongly that we could not proceed with his hiring. So my only out was to tell him that that we could not pay what he was demanding. He then (thankfully) decided not to accept the position.
After that I hired the person about whom, over the following months and years, my feeling was proven correct. The original hire ended up working with a major technology consulting firm from where, after a year he involuntarily left for undisclosed reasons. (Gloating aside, I made several unsuccessful attempts to find out why he left.
Chemistry and compatibility cannot be taught like skills or statistical analysis. They are more salient and sustainable than the ability to analyze data. Yet in most organizations leaders don’t trust themselves. They are fearful of intuitive decision-making which is more often correct than not.
Given the above, I have another question. Is Workplace Intelligence an oxymoron?