When is the last time you challenged your beliefs about hiring (or getting hired) and the role education plays in business success?
Like most business owners, when you hire, you list out all of the qualifications you want in a candidate. Then, when you get the resumes, you check to see that they have the skills you wanted.
Part of that checklist usually includes educational requirements. For most professional positions we assume that more education is better than less.
I recently watched an excellent TEDx presentation by Seth Godin called “Stop Stealing Dreams” (embedded below).
He talks about two myths that we should challenge:
- Great performance in school leads to happiness and success later in life.
- Great parents have kids who perform well in school.
Extending this out, he is saying we’ve bought into a myth that performance in school or the academic world predicts success in a particular role at your business. If you’ve done a lot of hiring, you know that relying on resumes is pretty hit and miss. Sometimes a specific education level or qualification is mandatory. Sometimes, we add them because we’ve always done it that way. Why?
The Big Question
The trillion dollar question is “what is school for?”
School was originally designed to get you ready for a job either in a factory or the offices that support the plants. Standardized tests were created by Frederick J. Kelly to categorize workers quickly. Ten years later after a change of heart, he tried to end them. But the bureaucracy was in motion and instead, he was let go. School was about teaching discipline, fitting in and being interchangeable.
Men were taught to leave their emotions and individuality behind to fit what was required by the system. Is it any wonder that many men feel disenfranchised? They paid the price to fit in and then when they were no longer needed, they were abandoned by the system; trapped in between worlds.
Fast forward to the present; we have even more standardization via tests and curriculum. We have politicians promising to make education more accessible, lower cost and even free. We are breaking down social barriers by giving even more people access to a broken system. We are chasing yesterday’s answers with vigor.
But we still haven’t stepped back to address the ultimate question. Why?
Technology and the world are changing faster than our ponderous systems of politicians, big corporations, and bureaucrats can keep up. It is like the Titanic bearing down on the iceberg: failing to recognize the problem and unable to change direction. There is no clear vision of what the system should be.
No matter how big or small our businesses are, as business leaders we can recognize an opportunity to start the change from within.
Define Core Competencies
Starting by taking a deeper look at your business and understanding what functions and roles are critical to the success of your business. Define your mission, vision, core values and desired culture.
Now look at each role and the functions that need to be performed. Decide what the minimum standard skills, abilities, and experience are to start in the position. Don’t forget the soft characteristics and cultural fit. Empathy might be more important for a nurse than a blacksmith.
Now define the ideal set of abilities required to succeed in the role when it is performed at a level of excellence. The difference is where you can train, mentor and provide experience.
We often attempt to hire for the imagined ideal set of skills needed. We hire people who are either overqualified or don’t fit the role. Neither leads to happy, effective teams.
Answer the Big Question
As it pertains to the success of your business or entrepreneurial venture, “What are education and training for?”
Since organizational needs are changing faster than ever, it is important to have a team that is capable of learning new skills quickly and a system for getting there. That might include just in time training, mentoring and on the job experience.
A training system is good for employees and the organization. Good, competent people are always in short supply.
Use the Trends
As Seth Godin mentions, it is now possible to take training from the best lecturers in the world, anytime and from any location. You can consume just the pieces you need right now, in a non-linear fashion. Gone are the days of taking months or years out to retrain, where 80% of the knowledge is wasted.
Computers, robotics, and automation will continue to change the face of work. Knowing this, how can you use the advances and trends that are happening to position the people in your business for success?
If it is work, people figure out how to do less. If it is art, people will figure out how to do more. ~ Seth Godin
Those companies that can answer these questions and figure out how to allow people to create art will be tomorrow’s success stories.
The answers and momentum we create now will eventually shift the bigger machine, just like any other disruptive venture.