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Shouldn't People Come with the Basics?

Hiring is a funny field. It is not easy and to a degree, whether we like it or not, it is a guessing game. Yes, we have all the competencies mapped out, we probe into them during interviews, and we run psychometric assessments, yet, hiring remains the job similar to Mystic Meg. Humans are complex and you will never know for sure if one will fulfil the role. 

Have you noticed that the biggest problems in organisations are caused by the lack of basics? Nobody has ever said "Szilvia is lacking strategic thinking" or "Project management skills." However, what we do often say though is "She is so disorganised she couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery." Forget about strategic thinking and all the big words, we lack the basics and that's worrying

I never understood why organisations are happy to spend money on things that should be taught by our parents. In fact, the entire society is built on spending money on parental failures; we hire street cleaners because parents failed to educate their kids about littering. We have therapists and resilience coaches because parents failed to equip their kids to deal with life. 

At work, we pay for body language training because people have not been taught how to talk, stand, or walk properly. I used to say to my staff who shuffled their feet "You know how to lift your leg so If I hear you shuffling one more time it means you cannot do this job." The amount of money we spend on nonsense training instead of hiring and retaining people with the basics in mind is mind-boggling to me. I consider this a waste of company resources. Here are some examples:

  • Language training - Hire people who speak the required level of the language or direct them to free online resources. If they don't have the discipline and ability to learn independently you will see that behaviour at work too. Maybe those are not the people you want to have on your team. 

  • EQ - It is not EQ we have a problem with but emotional dysregulation and that's definitely the parents' fault but your task to fix it. Weird! People who are shouting, crying, irritated, frustrated, oversensitive, inappropriate etc. cannot regulate their emotions and hence lose control over their subsequent actions. They should seek help outside of the organisation for two reasons; 1 - a workshop will not fix that. 2 - it is not the organisation's job to fix the error that should have been addressed between the ages of 3 and 6. 

  • Bullying & Harassment - It is possibly the most basic of society and I will never understand why we need to train grown adults about this. Once again, parents, where were you when your child needed you? Organisations should not be spending money on such training but fire people immediately. That's how you train adults on things they should have learned while growing up. You don't take them back to the sandbox and have a chat about the consequences of their behaviour. You show them. 

  • Time management - Now, this, seriously! Don't hire disorganised, undisciplined people because you will never teach them to be efficient, organised, and productive. Hire people who are high on industriousness and conscientiousness and you will never have to pay for time-management sessions. 

  • Ethics - We should not even go there because people with flexible morals will always do dodgy things. Give them the ethics charter, let them read it and if they do anything that goes against that fire them. Treat it as the law. Whether you know about its existence or not, you will be punished when breaking it. 

Early childhood experiences, such as limited socialisation can negatively impact social skill development such as communication, listening, teamwork/collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, EQ, empathy etc. I am sure you noticed that all of those are on your training calendar. Why are we still training people on things they were supposed to learn on the playground? How is that not mishandling of the organisation's finances? What is stopping us from starting budgeting for teaching people how to read and write? What is the difference? 

Sometimes I am not surprised that organisations or rather company owners are reluctant to invest in development activities because they intuitively or consciously know that these are the basics people should come with and I'm in support of that view. Organisations would better spend their finances if they trained people in:

  • The technical elements of their jobs so they can be better at what they do. We could teach people about data analytics because let's be honest that is a crucial skill and we are bad at that! Why don't we train people on AI and other current topics that would perhaps make their work easier and more efficient? No, instead, let's teach finance people about the Eisenhower Matrix of time management. How about teaching them how AI can do 60% of the jobs that finance does so they can do something useful with the remaining 40% of their time? Why do we still train people in Excel when we can teach them AI that manages Excel? 

  • The knowledge part of their job so they can acquire expertise and grow. This is so underrated in organisations! Sometimes I cannot believe the degree people lack knowledge of their field! Look at L&D as an example, they are still talking about learning styles when this theory was discredited years ago and they are still using MBTI assessment when it has been proven to be psychometrically invalid amongst other problems with it. Knowledge is what organisations want first and foremost because that's where your innovation, competitiveness, and higher profit lie. 

  • The behaviour part of their job so they can be someone others like to work with. This means they have the basics in order and organisations just need to guide them by applying their Values. That's all we need really, a little guidance not a whole construction crew working on basic behaviours. When companies have meaningful (Not a one-word - Innovation) Values and are serious about them you don't need a behavioural competency matrix or other childhood training. When organisations have that in place they can focus on programs that are age-appropriate and job-relevant like teaching leaders about motivational theories they can implement to manage their people. We can teach them how to strategically build teams (not a team-building activity!) for better performance or how to extract information from their team and use that as a base for their development whatever that may be. Why don't we expose leaders to organisational research when it comes to people management so we can bring them out of the 5th century they live in when it comes to managing people at work? Imagine, having a workshop about the latest research on generational needs at the workplace and the inefficacies of wellbeing initiatives. These are the topics leaders need not time-management or even project management. Give them a project management tool and if they are naturally organised they will figure it out within a second. 

Organisations must reconsider the kindergarten they are running because we are fixing the failures of parents and I don't think it is any organisation's role or that any company owner should pay money because my mother failed to teach me how to make it on time and not to be late. 

PS: If you don't consider these during recruitment you better have a solid training budget. You should also get ready to explain to the owner why you are spending money on something that you could have addressed during your selection process or in your performance management. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!

Or, learn about designing employee experiences.

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