About a year ago, while advising a manufacturing company on ways to get “unstuck” we began to look into current policies and practices that they had been following. It became apparent that part of the challenge facing them was tied to a lack of innovative management and leadership.
This shifted our focus to their management teams themselves. I asked the Senior Partners about the vetting process their HR department was directed to take. “We just follow the advice of our HR director, Charles replied, basically a couple of criteria’s need to be met before we will even consider them”
- A Bachelors degree or more
- A history of good credit
- Un-interrupted employment history.
“Interesting,” I replied. “Now how did your HR director arrive at this?” “Don’t know for sure he replied, let’s bring her in and the two of you can discuss it.”
The HR Director conveyed a solid argument regarding her department’s criteria. “We want to be sure that the candidate have a solid education, particularly in the areas that we will need him/her to conduct themselves.” Makes sense, I replied, but what if the candidate turns out to be one of those non-scholastic types, (like some of our greatest entrepreneurs? – Google successful business people who never finished college) Shouldn’t you also consider their practical experience? This means that their list of accomplishments match or outweigh college experience.
“Credit worthiness,” she explained, helps us to look at the maturity, reliability, character and moral judgment the candidate may have.” Really? I challenged, what about the individual who had previously maintained a stellar credit rating but was wiped out during the recession?
Finally, the newest game in town, an uninterrupted employment history. “We feel that one losses his or her edge if they are unemployed for a period of time. I mean, time moves on and things change,” she explained. “Besides, if they are good, they will never have been laid off in the first place – they are truly the cream of the crop,” she proudly concluded. “And, that’s what we want!”
This reasoning fails to hold much water, I replied. The last several years have seen millions of businesses either downsize or go under entirely. With them, exceptionally talented and dedicated employees.
I requested that I be allowed to by-pass the process that the companies HR department had established to demonstrate a point. Taking it upon myself to select candidates who would not have otherwise been considered.
Gary 36, has no college degree other than a few years in college courses. Nevertheless, he is always reading and self-educating himself. Because of his non-conventional and entrepreneurial approach, he single handedly grew the company’s market share by 17% during a time when competition was scrambling to maintain their positions in the market place.
David 52, who had lost his job at the beginning of the Great Recession tried desperately to find a new one. Like many talented individuals, he was either pegged as over-employed or not told, that he was too old.Regrettably, he was caught in the mortgage crises and eventually lost his home a year and a half later. In addition, because he went through his cash reserves (he also had two children in college) his credit became damaged goods. Ironically, six months after being retained by our client, he has streamlined their logistics and supply chain saving them 11% over previous years.
Finally, there is Heather 30. She was a young and energetic Sales Director with a prestigious marketing firm in San Francisco until they were forced to downsize. Her job separation kept her un-employed for nine months until she finally got her opportunity to work again. After recommending her to the Sales Manager position, she re-built the sales team and established strategies and new benchmarks necessary to bring better clarity and results. Said one of the Senior Partners recently, “we have never witnessed such a turnaround in our sales force in terms of objectives, results and attitude. She’s good!”
The lesson learned from this engagement confirmed what many people already know. That some of the best people in today’s workforce are the ones that may otherwise be passed up or forgotten about.