A new approach to selection
Question: How do you create a consistently successful team in sport?
Answer: You select your athletes brilliantly for the right attitudes then develop their skills with passion!
Question: How do most organisations believe you create successful performance?
Answer: You focus your selection on the leaders and their traits!
……..In this second answer is the key to why so many organisations today are unable to sustain high performance.
In most organisations the selection focus is usually centred on the leadership. When performance fails to materialise it is the leadership, more often than not, that is changed. The average tenure of a CEO in a listed company is around four years. Most often the problem is not that the leaders are poor but that the overall organisation is, at best, only average.
In reality, similar to sport, it is the organisation’s team (its athlete equivalents) who do the work and earn revenue and profits. It is these ‘players’, not the leaders, who meet the customers, extoll the organisations virtues, solicit customers’ business, turnaround their tenders, win and deliver their work and deal with all the day-to-day business issues that arise. All these players inhabit that most populous part of the organisation – the working middle, the engine room, of your organisation.
These middle managers and middle functional and discipline experts are the primary deliverers of the organisations wealth. They are the athletes, they are the team, who take to the field every day to compete. They are the players who the leaders hope will score the goals, clear the bar, jump the hurdles and in so many other ways deliver gold!
So how were these business athletes chosen? How smart was their selection? What was the basis on which they got into the team on which their ‘coaches’ (leaders) rely so much for their results? How aware are these leaders of the rich range of new ‘selection science’ that is available?
Few companies select their people on the really important aspects – Attitudes and Attributes. Often it is left to line managers and HR support functions to write up a job description, outline some experience requirements and a few desirable ‘traits’ and send it to an agency. They may even throw in a few popular psychometric tests. But this is at best basic recruitment. It is not selection in the scientific and high-performance sense of the word.
As a result of the current ‘custom and practice’ approach, we see organisations undertaking the sporting equivalent of selecting sumo wrestlers for the pole vault! With the best will in the world, even if the athlete’s attitudes are fantastic, you will never get a sumo wrestler to clear a six-metre bar on the end of a bendy stick! Yet we expect the organisational equivalent to clear it every time!
The selection approach is probably even less effective when it comes to attitudes. How many companies select for a mental state that wants to be stretched? That wants to be challenged? That is prepared to commit to an athlete’s equivalent of a long-term development journey to get ever fitter, more skilful and more capable? How many companies select for a mind-set that has the motivation to want to perform and succeed for its own reward and satisfaction. Or for numerous other critical, deep, driving forces that shape a person’s approach to life, to others, to problems, to work.
Just as in sport, selection of the ‘players’ in any organisation is the first and most fundamental requisite of building long term, successful teams and consequently to achieving sustainable performance. Selection must be more focused on these players and their attitudes, not just on the leaders. Once you have acquired players with right Attributes and Attitudes then you can develop and improve ability and capability in both the individuals and the organisation in leaps and bounds.
The world’s best coaches employ the very latest thinking in sports science and sports psychology to focus on athlete selection for the highest of high performance. Similar models and profiling tools exist for organisations. A number of highly successful firms already use them…… how about yours?