How to avoid being Sisyphus at work

“We don’t have a skills gap, we have a thinking gap.” Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired

Lou Adler is an Influencer on LinkedIn. As of this writing, he has
274,009 followers. He writes about talent management and how to hire the right people. His latest post is all about rethinking how we find our next great talent.  With 95% of people in one of his polls saying they’re open to looking at other opportunities, HR folks might want to listen up.

Unless you want to feel like Sisyphus, constantly pushing the boulder uphill only to start each day with the same task – replacing yet another employee who has left for greener pastures or who has failed at the job– you might want to rethink your hiring process. It takes guts. It takes time to know what the real job is. Here’s an example from Lou’s latest article on bridging the skills gap:

“ ‘What are the big things the person needs to do during the first year in order to be considered highly successful?’ Job success can usually be defined by two or three big performance objectives and two or three sub-steps. For example, a big objective for a distribution manager could be, ‘By Q4 upgrade the cross-docking system to enable 24-hour delivery.’ This is much better than, ‘Must have a BS and 7-10 years supply chain experience in the consumer products industry.’ Subtle point: if the person can do the work, they have exactly the skills and experience necessary.”

From figuring out who to hire well to sorting through the change in any industry, probably the most critical skill missing is good agile thinking and how we go about it. Getting out of our own way and vested interests is one of the hardest things to do but, as Harry Motro, a great business developer at CNN who went on to become the CEO of Infoseek, once said, “You need to cannibalize yourself before someone else does.”   Harry was talking about the changing media landscape and taking risks but he could just as easily be talking about any status quo situation. What vested interests are we afraid of losing with change?  What’s our aim? Will we know what success looks like to so we can evaluate whether change or the status quo is working?

Recently, I read about how one successful VC, Fred Wilson, described the top skill of an entrepreneur as “speed”.  That’s great if that speed includes making smart well thought out decisions, not knee jerk reactions. Yes, fail fast as they say so you can learn faster and succeed. But, too often, people confuse speed with momentum when often, without good analysis, the fast wrong choices can actually delay change and progress.

So, what’s your goal? How are you measuring your individual progress as well as your organization’s? Think about it.

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