How many times have you realised after promoting or recruiting and employee, that they do not have the level of potential you require to deliver on the job? The biggest challenge is that most of the companies want to go against what scientific evidence says about employee potential and performance.
It costs the company money to elevate people to higher roles if they do not have the capacity for the higher level roles. The key predictors of employee performance are General Mental Ability (GMA) and Individual Personality. Yes, people talk about emotional intelligence but if you look at recent research, you will note that emotional intelligence is embedded in the personality of the individual. The two variables, (GMA & Personality) account for more than 60% of the variation in individual performance. The rest of the variables are cultural variables within the business. Let’s look at the reality here in as far as individual employee capacity to perform is concerned. If you recruit someone with low general mental ability for the target role, don’t waste your time trying to correct a cognitive ability shortcoming with training. Unfortunately, GMA and personality are very stable attributes and are permanent. They are partly hereditary and partly influenced by the environment during early childhood.
Your business benefits more if it was to assess these attributes at entry before people join your organisation. It is a waste of time and resources to recruit people who lack these attributes for the target role and hope that you will correct these through training. This is where you find organisations spending huge sums of money on employee training with no corresponding change in individual performance. This is what science says and until new evidence to the contrary emerges, you are better off on the side of current evidence.
Assuming you are selecting your employees properly and they have the GMA and personality for a role, your development efforts will pay off, as the same individuals have the capacity to be trained and improve performance. I believe that most organisations are handicapped when it comes to improving their performance because key roles are manned by people who have no capacity. Imagine the amount of improvements that will accrue to organisations if they hire and promote people with the capacity for the target roles.
Sometimes I actually laugh when I see people in higher offices talk about business turnaround when they have no human capacity to do so. Regardless of the resources you have, if your people have no capacity for their roles, the resources will be wasted.
Before you offer a new employee a contract, you also need to assess for culture fit. There are some employees who will never survive in some cultures despite the level of capacity they possess. So a combination of GMA, Personality and Culture fit is all that is needed to get the right people into your business. I know a lot of Executives do not believe this evidence from research, but if they were to be honest, they would tell you they are living with the consequences of bad hires every day and its costing them money and other resources.
Most of the qualities needed to be effective in leadership roles cannot be taught. I have seen people trying to teach 40 year olds ethics. Surely that is a waste of resources. By the age 10 or so, your ethical make up is set. I have also seen people trying to teach people empathy. Again, that is a waste of resources. The reality of the bad leadership that we see in the corporate world and in politics is not a result of lack of education. The majority of the people you see running down companies are well educated. Education level has a very weak relationship with individual performance on the job.
A lot of the training that is done in the corporate world is a waste of resources and will continue to be like that unless we start training people with potential. You are better off as a business to focus your attention on those with potential and on attributes that can be changed that are not inherited from parents.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant – Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. He hosts a radio program HR Perspective every Thursday at 1900hrs on Capitalk 100.4FM . https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com