Do the BEST ACTORS get the JOB?

18 Sep

Do the best actors (who look right) get the job? At work, are the best actors (playing the right role of course) most successful?  Are the most impressive employees usually acting or are they simply reacting in a style they believe will be most effective in the circumstances?  Another possibility, of course, is that the person is responding to whatever it is in a natural and sincere fashion.  What do you think?  Is there also room for the rebel who may be somewhat obnoxious, but exudes brilliance in his/her field?

Does it really matter?  Is sincerity so important in a captive environment?   It does make sense to develop an adaptive style within an organization and sometimes it is necessary for survival.   It can also help in developing tolerance and showing compliance in ways that may not make sense but are necessary.  There are reasons, of course, why employees should be appealing to others, but is it an integral part of the job, measurable and as important as getting the work done, or is it simply personal marketing?

Are managers (including executives) compromising the success of the organization by insisting on working with people they like the look of and who say the right things?  Are managers putting ego and “nice” (in their opinion) employees ahead of BEST WORK RESULTS!  I believe that is often the case.  Consistent with the “personality cult”, is the focus of managers on short-term success they will get credit for, rather than long term sustainability that will benefit others in the future? Is the focus often more on personal short-term security than corporate long-term success?

It seems that many managers have been allowed to hire in their own image and for their own comfort and companionship (?) rather than bona-fide job related reasons.  The frequent excuse is that the manager must commit to the employee he/she personally selects! The prevalent subjectivity in selection is widely known to job applicants, and preparation for an interview can be more focused on presentation and likeability factors than focus on the job.  The best actors will learn and play the part best and get the job.  Their selection over better-qualified and more capable candidates can be not only discriminatory but in conflict with the best business interests of the organization.  What do you think?

All the world is a stage and that can particularly apply in the workplace.  A workplace that superficially may seem the greatest, but often places more emphasis on looking right than actually doing what is best. All the right policies may be in place, all the right social commitments, but is it reality or only words? Focusing on what we are comfortable with and keeping it that way by hiring in our own image, rather than hiring people who may be a little different, but, nevertheless, have the best skills and ability to get results in any environment.

I believe the obligation to an organization, is have employees most capable of performing the work (including the interactive requirements) rather than hiring and promoting people we like the look of and we believe will fit in with our style.  To be competitive, we need to focus on hiring people with the best skills and results capability and selecting managers who are able to inspire and provide leadership to smart, innovative and high potential new age employees. Much more difficult to supervise the best than “direct” the good actors who know the game and foster their own wellbeing by making the boss feel good.

What do you think?  Are the best actors most successful?  Is role-playing within an organization often more important than results? If there is such an emphasis on looking right, is that likely to inhibit individuality and, particularly, innovation and progressive thinking? What do you think?

Thank you for your interest.  I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.





2 Responses to “Do the BEST ACTORS get the JOB?”

  1. Heidi De Wolf (@futurecatalyst) September 18, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    While this rings true based on a personal experience, I do think that matching values and risk attitudes are important for fit. Where they don’t match, both parties bring out the worst in one another. In my experience, it is not abnormal for managers to recruit in their image, which then sets the culture of the team. People who ‘don’t fit’ will be sidelined. High performers (aka Intrepreneurs/Innovators/Mavericks) can be among this group as managers may feel criticised and/or perceive this group as ‘unmanagable’ (which is not wholly untrue as this group prefers a more coaching-style of leadership over traditional people management practices).

    As such a team will often match the values and risk attitude of the recruiting manager which has an impact on transformation and innovation capability.

    • ianclive September 18, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Hi Heidi,

      Thank you for your comments, which do seem realistic in some situations, but I still have concerns with a manager who can only competently manage people who are similar to him/her. I have even greater concerns with a manager who sidelines people who he/she perceives (or instinctively judges) as not fitting, including high performance people who may be more difficult to manage. A competent manager should be able to manage people of many different styles and build very capable teams that benefit from their diversity and complementary styles.

      My further concern, from an acting perspective, is that when hiring, the manager may be taken in by the way the candidate presents himself/herself (the good actor) to gain favour with the manager. The manager may (few are able to accurately assess people based on limited exposure) make a bad hire and be stuck anyway.

      An even greater concern, is that managers are not forever and after the manager spends ages finding someone who fits his/her style, the manager may leave or be transferred to a new team hired by someone else. Will the manager (with limited people style skills) be able to manage the new team and will the replacement manager be able to competently take over the old team comprised of people hired to fit someone else? I believe it is far safer and effective to hire the best people for the organization rather than hiring to match individual managers. This is important also for strategic flexibility and being able to move people around.

      Thank you very much, Heidi, for expanding this discussion in such a helpful way.


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