Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent…so what about Performance and Ability?
There’s been a thread running through some of my recent blogs around performance and attitude, probably not surprising considering that I’m job hunting and currently interviewing. I posted Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills a few weeks ago and it was well received. I posted it on RecruitingBlogs to a predominantly US audience and it received quite a lot of comment and sparked some fiery debate!
The follow up Past Performance is Relative was a rumination on how achievements and deliverables have to be looked at in the context of the structures, processes, environment and expectations of the business in which they are achieved.
Up until now I’ve been thinking of situations where you are hired because of previous performance but what about getting hired despite previous performance.
Hence ‘Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent’.
We’ve heard the saying many times, always in the context of top sportsmen/sportswomen who have lost form, they’re having a bad patch, not quite firing on all cylinders. It’s never doubted that a top performer who’s having a bad time will get their mojo back and be a top performer again.
I’m wondering if this sports truism translates to business. Particularly to sales businesses, most of whom are very fond of sports analogies.
Can a top performer who is currently not hitting their usual high standards return to peak performance? Do they need a new team, a new environment?
In business could we say that ‘Performance is Temporary, Ability is Permanent’
So I’ll use myself as an example.
During my interviews with recruitment businesses we will inevitably talk figures. There’s no real problem with my track record up until 2010, in fact I’ve been told by many that my figures for 2009 (a pretty poor year for the industry) are comparatively good. Don’t get me wrong, 2010 wasn’t a disastrous year by any stretch, just not a particularly good one. The figures were OK, but in context of previous years a bit ordinary. There were many reasons and contributing factors, which I don’t intend to bore you with here, but suffice to say that the year ending with the business being closed down is indicative.
As I would advise any candidate going for interview, I am honest and open about this. I’m asked about the positives, the negatives, why I thought it happened and what I would have done differently, and normally have a fairly frank conversation about it.
Back to the sports analogy.
I would describe myself as a good Premiership striker -certainly not a Rooney or Drogba…maybe a Kevin Davies – who regularly delivers 15 goals a season. I’m reliable, consistent, flexible and able to adapt to different systems and styles of play. I’ve just been through an unsuccessful season that’s ended with my team being relegated. I only scored 10 goals, and am being hard on myself. I’m out of contract and looking for a new club.
In football it would be a no-brainer. You can hear the pundits…proven goalscorer…role model for younger players…gives his all for the team…provide maturity and leadership…never gives up…consistent performer
So how does that translate to business?
If you are interviewing someone whose current form has dipped, do you back them to sparkle again?
What do you look for in these situations, and how do you assess whether their performance dip is temporary or permanent?
I would love to hear your thoughts….