Ex­ec­u­tive Eye

Die Ar­beitswelt wan­delt sich ständig.wie lässt sich also fest­stellen, ob ein für eine heutige Stelle geeigneter Bewer­ber auch seine zukün­fti­gen Auf­gaben er­fol­gre­ich er­füllen wird?

Business Spotlight - - CONTENTS -

Adrian Furn­ham on em­ployee po­ten­tial

Can one as­sess a per­son’s po­ten­tial to suc­ceed in the fu­ture? This is even more prob­lem­atic than choos­ing the right can­di­date at a job in­ter­view because one is not se­lect­ing for a spe­cific job. And it is highly likely that the work­place, the work tasks and the work styles of the fu­ture will be sur­pris­ingly dif­fer­ent from what they are to­day. So how does one as­sess some­one’s po­ten­tial for a num­ber of pos­si­ble fu­ture jobs that may not cur­rently ex­ist or that one can­not yet fully de­scribe? Three fac­tors ⋅ must be con­sid­ered:

Do char­ac­ter­is­tics change over a life­span? Self-help books tell us that per­sonal change is pos­si­ble and de­sir­able. Yet, this goes against the ev­i­dence. In­tel­li­gence lev­els may drop slightly, but they change lit­tle over a work­ing life. The same is true of abil­i­ties. And ex­tro­verts may also become slightly less ex­tro­verted; the very shy may ap­pear less so. But the fun­da­men­tals re­main the same. Ma­jor per­sonal crises can change per­sonal cop­ing strate­gies. But the bot­tom line for any­one around ⋅ 30 is: “What you see is what you get.”

What is the cost of de­vel­op­ment? Peo­ple can be groomed for a par­tic­u­lar job. They can be sent on train­ing cour­ses or ex­per­i­men­tal week­ends, or to do fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion. But it is im­por­tant to choose the right peo­ple, and not to hope that such groom­ing will iron out the prob­lem ar­eas. Ac­quir­ing and re­tain­ing skills is ex­pen­sive and dif­fi­cult. Make sure the ⋅ cost is worth it.

What are the essen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics of fu­ture suc­cess? The first is sim­ple: in­tel­li­gence or abil­ity. Bright peo­ple typ­i­cally learn faster and adapt more quickly — if they want to. Se­lec­tors and as­ses­sors can test for in­tel­li­gence us­ing spe­cific abil­ity tests. But in­tel­li­gence alone is not enough. Also im­por­tant is emo­tional sta­bil­ity. The emo­tion­ally un­sta­ble are poor at cus­tomer re­la­tions, become capri­cious and dif­fi­cult man­agers, and are prone to ab­sen­teeism. Thus one se­lects the sta­ble, the phleg­matic and the emo­tion­ally ad­justed.

The third char­ac­ter­is­tic is con­sci­en­tious­ness. The chil­dren of am­bi­tious, fu­ture-ori­ented par­ents of­ten de­velop this in child­hood. Con­sci­en­tious peo­ple are — by def­i­ni­tion — dili­gent, re­spon­si­ble and du­ti­ful. They are con­sci­en­tious on and off the job and this at­tribute is not dif­fi­cult to as­sess. Some may be a lit­tle risk averse, but their re­li­a­bil­ity makes them an as­set.

So that is all you need: bright, sta­ble, con­sci­en­tious peo­ple. While some man­agers may become stars with only two of these char­ac­ter­is­tics, those pos­sess­ing all three are a safe bet.

ADRIAN FURN­HAM is a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity Col­lege, Lon­don. His lat­est book is The Re­silient Man­ager: Nav­i­gat­ing the Chal­lenges of Work­ing Life (Pal­grave Macmil­lan).

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