HR Will Hire Anyone

If you take a group of people and put them into a meeting and have them talk about something, the opinion of the loudest person or most charismatic person or most assertive person, those are the ones that the group tends to follow.  And yet, researchers have looked at this and found that there is no correlation between being that best talker and having the best ideas.   We are living in a society now that is so overly extroverted.

As we shifted from an agricultural economy to a corporate one, we started to admire people who could be magnetic and charismatic.  These were the qualities that seemed to matter for job interviews and things like that.  In the earlier agricultural economy, our self help books used to have titles like “Character” but then the self help books later on became  books like Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people.”  Those were all about teaching us to be more entertaining and more dynamic.   Any trait in human nature has its pros and it has its cons.  For too long we’ve looked at introversion for its disadvantages and we’ve looked at extroversion only for its advantages. 

If you look at the birth of Apple Computer, we tend to associate Apple Computer with Steve Jobs who was a dazzling showman.  But the person who really invented the Apple Computer was Steve Wozniak, who was a self identified introvert.  He created this computer by sitting by himself in a cubicle in Hewlett Packard, where he was working at the time, late at night and early in the morning before anyone else was at work.  He worked by himself for months and then produced this amazing technology.  Then he shared this with his friend, Steve Jobs.  Then it was Steve Jobs who said, “We should start a company with this.  This is amazing.”  Without Steve Jobs, none of this would have come to pass.  So it was a combination of the solitary person to go off by himself and think in his deep way and then having a partnership between the two.   Introverts and extroverts are really drawn to one another and really need each other. 

Our HR professionals are trained otherwise.  They don’t look for who would be the best worker for the company or who could have the most innovative ideas, they look for who can put on the best show or who has the most padded resumé.  In fact, our HR professionals are not experts at reading people or knowing who would benefit the company best.  They at first employ filters to eliminate people they’ve been trained to deem undesirable.  The application is one of those filtering tools.  Immediately they can judge someone on their penmanship, completion, spelling, where they live, their age, have they ever been arrested, etcetera.  Those who pass that phase are then judged on how they dress, their grooming and their overall health.  Then they are judged on how quickly or effortlessly they can tell you why red is their favorite color or some other question which does not tell the HR person how they can help the company grow or be more profitable.  Fast talkers with good eye contact are favored over those who are deep thinkers and may not be able to articulate an answer to “Tell me about yourself.” 

Today, most HR professionals wouldn’t hire Steve Wozniak based on his outward appearance and introversion.  They wouldn’t even hire Steve Jobs because he didn’t have a college degree and most likely reeked of pot. 

Churches are not exempt from prejudice.  When hiring an organist, many will only consider someone who has a degree in music.  Anyone can sit in a classroom for four years but while they were sitting there, someone else may have been honing their performance and technical skills in the real world with real professionals.  Which would better serve the church in a performance position? 

Cameron Carpenter is one of the best organists in the world but a lot of churches would not hire him because he is an atheist, among other things.  Instead, they would rather hire an adequate left footed organist who can tell them what they want to hear or has a higher degree.  That person may not necessarily have the skills to promote growth, inspire participation or minister to the people.  Cameron could fill the church which his dazzling playing every Sunday but churches don’t seem to want that.  They don’t seem to know what they want.  Of course they want someone who is empathetic and ministerial but you don’t learn that by getting a degree and saying you are doesn’t make it so.

Churches even run background checks on employees and parishioners to weed out the sinners.  Jesus himself would not be permitted to serve any of today’s church for he was a convicted felon, he was often outspoken against the church and he befriended sinners.  Which church would YOU rather belong to, the one Jesus dreamt of or the judgmental one we’ve created? 

Of course background checks only weed out people who have been caught.  I knew a Roman Catholic priest who used to let his sister use the church credit card because it was tax free.  Of course this holy man never committed a crime because he never got caught so who was he really hurting?  He justified it to me once as “a perk.”  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I have a friend who is the manager of a private service business and he only hires felons.  He believes strongly in giving people a second chance.  He also recognizes that no one else would hire these people so he is going to get loyal, dedicated, responsible and creative people who would do nothing to jeopardize this rare opportunity.  Sure, he has problems once in a while but, for the most part his employees are unremitting in their labor to return the favor of employment, trust and respect.  He has zero theft, his employees trust him enough to come to him about their problems and they are eager to share ideas to grow and profit the company.

Conversely, I used to volunteer for a service organization and I witnessed many of the paid employees ripping off the company on many occasions.  One person used to come in every day at 9:30 or 10:00 but sign his time sheet at 8:45 or 9:00.  When the supervisor left around 2:00, he would hang out until around 3:00 or 4:00 and sign his sheet for 5:00.  Of course he wasn’t physically stealing money so I guess his rationalization was that it was okay.

Another employee used to play video games all day while another would watch movies on his iPad and yet another would spend most of their time wandering around to other cubicles pretending to be doing work but was just talking to other volunteers and employees.  They all felt they were underpaid; more rationalization.  When caught in the kitchen by a supervisor, the talker would pretend to be cleaning.  When this company was losing their funding and a layoff of the paid staff was imminent, I went in on a Sunday to get a jump on the work that the paid staff was not doing, when one of the paid employees (the video game guy) came in and was surprised to see me.  He went into the back where another volunteer office was and when he left, I was on the phone with my back to the exit.  However, I could see his reflection in my monitor.  He was carrying a painting.  Later I went into the other office to see what was missing and in addition to the painting, I could see there was a clock and a few books removed from the shelf. 

This is the judgement of HR at its best, hiring honest,smooth and extroverted talkers.  I only want to know one thing, who hires these HR people?  It seems they hire anyone. 

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