The NFL is currently studying in infinite detail each prospect for new employment. The rookie combine is taking place this week. Each prospective draft choice (i.e., new employee) is being weighed and measured. Their 40 yard dash times and their bench press reps are being counted. They are taking an intelligence test and even having the size of their hands measured. What would an Operations combine measure?
It is my contention that corporate America does a poor job selecting employees due to a lack of understanding what makes a candidate successful. Part of the issue is that many companies do not measure what makes them successful (or less so) very well. I think that once a company moves past the typical financial measurements, their performance metrics are lacking.
I do not believe that most companies define their metrics well. Furthermore, when metrics are defined, I believe that they are not typically good leading indicators of performance. Finding strong leading indicators of performance can provide the roadmap for a company to make the continuous improvements that will make the company more successful. This will lead to those financial metrics (which are lagging indicators) going the direction that is desired.
But, let’s get back to the topic at hand, selecting good employees. Given that performance measurements at the organizational level are poor, it is little surprise that our ability to predict individual performance is suspect. How does an organization go about finding candidates for Operations roles? We look at resumes that provide an outline of the person, but does not get at the core. Worse yet, a computer skims the resume and spits out the ones that best completed the word search.
Certainly, no one is holding a combine and determining how quickly the prospects can calculate a cycle time or re-layout the material flow of a factory. I have been interviewed a number of times for full time positions or contract roles and I have never had to answer a question about capacity limiting operations or lead time reduction. I have had to discuss whether I know anything about forecasting and if you have read some of my other posts, you know that forecasting is rarely the issue in Operations improvement.
Of course certifications are an indicator of knowledge. These can let you know if a candidate knows what MRP is, but I have consulted with many such professionals that did not understand how to find the real problems in their supply chains nor how to fix them.
My advice for hiring managers is this: open the criteria and look at more resumes personally. When you meet with the candidate ask one extra question. When you discuss their accomplishments, ask how they did it. This will go a long way to letting you know if they can do it again for your organization.
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Best regards, Shane.