One of the strangest things that I’ve seen throughout my career is the belief that people’s task based capability is somehow fixed or tethered to the moment. I’m not talking about growth or fixed mindsets of the individual (that’s for others to opine on…) – I’m talking about the mental ticklist assigned to others about what they can and can’t do.
It manifests most when we hire individuals or talk about immediate career moves. A conversation about what X can’t do. Or how job Y needs someone who can do a very specific thing.
Small things become insurmountable. The thing that takes a couple of weeks to learn becomes a reason – perhaps a convenient reason – to hire people.
And yet this reason only comes out sometimes.
Other times people are full of potential and ‘they’ll have no problem learning that’. I can’t help but think that sometimes chemistry/fit gets people a pass that others wouldn’t. At times that’s probably straightforwardly discriminatory – as much as we’d all like to think it isn’t.
It reminds me of the X Factor or The Apprentice. A bewildering reasons of people to put people through that varies week to week.
- I have to go with the performance in the sing off/this week’s task
- I have to look at the whole of what people have delivered in previous weeks
- I have to think about who could be a recording artist/my business partner
- I can’t see that star potential/hunger
- I have to listen to the public/Karen
The reasons seem clear and fair in isolation but mask the lack of consistency – seemingly fair in the moment, yet unjust in the round.
We talk about unfairness in hiring processes, yet people’s progress through their career is impacted by that day to day assessment of potential, performance and capability too.
People’s talent deserves better than a talent show.