Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Susan Boyle Effect

Who the heck is Susan Boyle?

She is a singer on the TV show “Britains Got Talent 2009” who’s voice just blew the judges out of the water.

So what! So, she absolutely doesn’t look the part. If you watch the video link above, you can see the judges and the audience’s reaction to her appearance and accent when she walks out on stage.

Then she sang. She sang and the world changed! You suddenly see her as a professional singer with the wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyling all perfect. This should be more than an interesting cultural note, it should be a wake up call to how you find and hire talent for your business.

Susan boyle’s resume was her appearance and accent and the audience and judges discounted her on that initial look. When she sang, she demonstrated her capabilities and they are magnificent.

The TV show American Idol is entertainment and the failures are almost as entertaining as the successes. Without a venue like Britians Got Tallent, Susan might never have gotten past the initial “she really doesn’t look like my preconceived idea of what a singer should look and talk like”. What a talent the world would have missed.

Is your system so narrow and your preconceptions so strong you are missing great talent for your business? Before you start claiming you don’t have time to talk to everyone, think about the following:

A backhoe without an operator is a lawn ornament while a worker with a shovel will still get work done. Maybe not as much or as quickly, but the worker is the key, not the equipment.

If presentation skills are not part of the job you are filling, then presentation doesn’t matter. The number of workers who have focused task skills AND presentation skills is much smaller than those with just task skills. Every time you hire based on how good the resume looks and how well they interview, you risk hiring a skilled presenter and not a skilled worker.

We all knew people in school who tested well but had no clue what the class was about or how to apply the lessons. Is your HR process screening for great singers or people who just look and talk like great singers? Unlike a TV talent show, you have to hire the worker to “hear them sing”. Make sure your process is getting the workers you need and not just the ones that are easy for HR to pick.

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