Picture the scene: you have a team of individuals in desperate need of a leader. You therefore have to recruit someone quick, and you can’t mess it up this time.
You’ve hired a few already, but without much success – not for ages, anyway. Your last public triumph was in 1966!
Things were looking so promising earlier this year; you thought you had a great candidate at last – but he committed a public indiscretion almost immediately, and you had to let him go.
So for now you’ve put someone in temporary charge; he doesn’t actually have the right level of experience, but he knows enough to be able to hold the fort while you work out what to do next.
Therefore you have a little breathing space. And you know what to do next, because you’ve done it before. You dust off the job description and prepare to advertise the same old role again. You know what you want, and it’s just a matter of time before the perfect candidate falls into your lap. Kiss enough frogs, etc.
Where’s my list? It’s time to call some recruitment agencies.
But wait! As a recruitment agency person myself, I’m now going to ask you a question that might not necessarily be good for business (my business, that is).
My question is this: what about the temporary guy?
While you think about the implications of this question, I will take the opportunity to reveal that the above scenario isn’t fictional at all – it’s exactly what has actually happened recently with the England football team.
Not for the first time, the English Football Association found themselves in the position of having to recruit. But this time they did it a little differently.
They opened their eyes and noticed that the person they had put in temporary charge was actually doing quite a good job. He was getting on well with the team, he was actually getting results, and he hadn’t committed any crimes so far.
So they set up an interview.
There were plenty of doubters, of course.
- He doesn’t match the job description!
- He lacks the technical experience that we say we need
- He hasn’t won any major tournaments!
- He isn’t world famous!
But on this occasion the FA decided that attitude and willingness to learn were of more importance than all of these other things. They offered him the job, and his first competitive match as official manager is on 26th March 2017.
In my opinion the FA have made an intelligent choice. There have been sixteen different managers since England last won anything, so a change of tactic is overdue.
The moral is that you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude. Only time will tell whether or not Gareth will be a successful appointment, and the odds are against him, given that there can only be one actual winner of any given football tournament.
But in business there can be many winners, so although my England manager role analogy isn’t an exact parallel to most IT leadership roles, the principle still applies.
To sum up: my advice is to recruit on behaviours, not just on experience. Skills can be taught, but attitude is much harder to change.
Having said that – ask me again on 27th March, and I might have changed my mind…
If you want to talk about how behavioural assessments can help you in your quest to recruit your next IT person, feel free to get in touch.