Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hire for Brand, Train For Technical Skills

In response to: "That's Not Your Area To Worry About; That's Above Your Pay Grade; You're Not Being A 'Team Player!'" at GovLoop

Just saw this post and wondered why nobody had replied. Then realized that of course, nobody had replied as there's really no diplomatic way to say that you've gone through this at work even though employees, federal and nonfederal, go through this all the time.
The problem is really that we're hired to do specific jobs, that fit into a specific functional area, that fits into a specific kind of hierarchy, that is situated within a culture. The unspoken but understood contract is that you you get a performance plan and you fulfill its requirements and then you are secure. Unfortunately this model is very outdated.
In today's economy/work environment we need to be hiring people who fit in well with the overall brand of the organization. By "brand" I mean the culture but a little more than the culture - it's the "way things are" plus "the way we want them to be." You could call brand a combination of culture, mission and direction.
When you hire for brand, you immediately add to the cohesiveness of the team and enable it to be higher-performing. The technical stuff you can train for, whether it's computers or the things that particular agency or organization does that are mission-specific.
The kind of people who are best equipped for the new workplace are broadly educated critical thinkers who do exactly what the old-fashioned organization tells them not to do. They jump in, see the big picture, identify problems, and find ways to solve them either alone or with other people.
This is why understanding and continually refining the brand through leading people is the #1 job of any and every leader and should be the top task on the priority list every single day.