Jobs and courtship

Jobs, unlike romantic relationships, don’t come with a courtship period. You basically go for a bunch of interviews and at the end of it both parties (you and the employer) have to decide whether it is going to be a good fit. Neither party has complete information – you don’t know what a typical day at the job is like, and your employer doesn’t know much about your working style. And so both of you are taking a risk. And there is a significant probability that you are actually a misfit and the “relationship” can go bad.

For the company it doesn’t matter so much if the odd job goes bad. They’ll usually have their recruitment algorithm such that the probability of a misfit employee is so low it won’t affect their attrition numbers. From the point of view of the employees, though, it can get tough. Every misfit you go through has to be explained at the next interview. You have a lot of misfits, and you’re deemed to be an unfaithful guy (like being called a “much-married man”). And makes it so tough for you to get another job that you are more likely to stumble into one where you’re a misfit once again!

Unfortunately, it is not practical for companies to hire interns. I mean, it is a successful recruitment strategy at the college-students level but not too many people are willing to get into the uncertainty of a non-going-concern job in the middle of their careers. This risk-aversion means that a lot of people have no option but to soldier on despite being gross misfits.

And then there are those that keep “divorcing” in an attempt to fit in, until they are deemed unemployable.

PS: In this regard, recruitments are like arranged marriage. You make a decision based on a handful of interviews in simulated conditions without actually getting to know each other. And speaking of arranged marriage, I reprise this post of mine from six years ago.

Handling Jesus

A few months back, perhaps during the football world cup, I had talked about the role of Jesus Navas in the Spanish attack. He would mostly be brought on as a “plan B”, mostly when the Spanish tiki-taka failed to break down the opposition defence.

And by hogging the right touchline, he would single-handedly offer a new line of attack, without taking too much away from the existing tiki-taka attack down the middle. Though quite under-rated, I think he had valuable contributions in the Spanish victory.

So I was thinking about the conditions that are essential for the success of Jesus Navas. And the primary condition, I thought, was the support of his team-mates. For example, when Xavi passed the ball right to Navas, he recognized fully well that there was little chance Navas would give it back to him. Xavi would recognize that Navas would play his own game, and all he had to do would be to perhaps send Sergio Ramos to support and get players in the box waiting for the cross.

It is to the credit of Xavi and the other members of Spanish “Plan A attack” that they recognized this and allowed Navas to play his own game whenever he came on. If they hadn’t, Navas would surely have never been as effective. In fact, he would have been a complete misfit and failure.

You might want to draw your own analogies from this but what I want to say is that when you have a guy in your team who does things differently, who is there to “provide a different angle to the attack”, you need to create conditions to facilitate his work. At the very least, you need to ensure that all members of the team recognize that this guy is different, and what they need to do to enable his success.

Talking about diversity and diversity policies is all fine, but to get the best out of the diversity policy, you need to create conditions to extract the best out of the “diversity hire”, in whatever context you choose to view this.