The personnel management bookends – of Hiring and Performance Evaluation – have both long ago outstripped most people’s intuitive ability to “objectively” foresee specific comings and goings. To some extent, we expect that those two efforts will be pushed in one direction or another by relationships that pave the “inside tracks” to adequate visibility and preference. The complexity and brute force of recruiting, references, and resume robots each can create many different paths, but the average person being evaluated doesn’t know what the particular path is at the time without lots of “inside” help. There are just too many variables.
Why are some people hired or fired when they appear only comparable to others who are not? How do they get on the necessary track to be chosen or retained? Or how does the track change and run out from under them without their knowing it?
The approach used here to reach an answer began by looking to neutralize (or set aside) “relationships”, while cataloging characteristics frequently observed being used as “selection criteria”. The characteristics all pertain to a candidate individual. The problem of selection is framed as a cross-referencing of Position (the chance to do something) and Skill (the ability to do something).
The high-level abstraction of Position versus Skill has been chosen because of its simplicity and directness in pointing at Effectiveness. The framework argues that Effectiveness, whether projected or proven, is the single most important factor in both the decision to hire and the evaluation of performance.
Most conversations about the reason for selection or rejection will feature a vocabulary found within this framework of “characteristics”. For any given occasion of evaluation, the characteristics are the criteria, and some of the criteria are emphasized significantly more than others. The emphasis comes from whatever is driving the perceived need to modify the organization at the time. The emphasis determines how important it is that any particular characteristics are sufficient and beneficial. Part of the equation for a candidate, then, is to show alignment with the current emphasis.
A critical difference between the Position criteria and the Skill criteria is that Position can be circumstantial and simply mandated. Position is intentionally highly variable and can easily be the source of a sudden misalignment with the current presence and arrangements of Skill. Skill, on the other hand, must be acquired or cultivated for the Position if it is to be meaningful.
In this approach, assessing effectiveness relies on the same information regardless of whether the effort is prescriptive before the fact or descriptive after the fact. Emphasis on one criterion or another shifts from time to time, but all characteristics are tactically significant in a standing general way as potential contributors to be leveraged by the organization. The vocabulary of that leverage tends to name outcomes recognized as effectiveness.
Meanwhile, as we know, relationships can be decisive by funneling key information to individuals about impending conditions, priorities and preferences.