The time to ‘trust your gut’ is lunchtime…

…not when it’s time to hire a new staff member.

Managers often rely on their intuition or ‘gut feel’ when it comes to staffing decisions. I have done this myself. It’s amazing how often we hear “it just felt right”, “she seems like a good fit” or “I feel very comfortable with him”.

We do seem to have a lot of confidence in our intuition, don’t we?

When it turns out the person hired is just not up to the job, we are very unlikely to say “I guess my intuition isn’t reliable”. We’re more likely to place the blame elsewhere.

Instead of taking responsibility, we might say things like “he did a great job of selling himself at the interview” or “her referees exaggerated her ability”.

For managers who rely on outdated or ineffective recruitment procedures, the wrong decision is usually seen as someone else’s fault. Most often, the new hire. Is that fair?

There is always a place for intuition in decision-making, but it’s also good to know its limitations.

Compare hiring to other critical business decisions. When was the last time you heard a manager use “it just felt right” as justification for an equipment or software purchase? Of course, few would. So I wonder why we are comfortable to take a gamble on ‘gut feel’ when making the major investment of hiring a new staff member.

Here are a few things we know about successful hiring:

  1. Past work experience is a poor indicator of a candidate’s ability to perform well in a new role, as a surprising study from 2019 reveals;
  2. Motivation and fit are the best indicators of future performance, yet not all hiring managers assess these objectively;
  3. Matching the right person to the right job by measuring their ‘fit’ to the role is easy and inexpensive. All you need is reliable data.

The predictably disastrous CEO appointment at AMP is just one example of the issues ignoring fit – beyond skills and experience – can cause. One essential to recruiting well is to remember the culture you are aiming to create or maintain.

How well you do this has a huge influence on the results you can expect next time you hire a new team member. It’s up to you. Apply the best tools and advice you can afford to ensure the ongoing health of your organisation.

We can help you stay true to your vision and values every time you hire. When you’re ready to enhance your intuition with some objective data, give us a call.

About Susan Rochester

Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

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