Too Many Labels…

I have been greatly influenced by two books on understanding and assessing people. The Talent Masters by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan, and It’s Not the How or the What but the Who by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz.

In both books, the big message to all of us in organizations, in HR, business, operations is – do we really know how to observe, understand and assess people?

The authors in their own ways say – don’t be in a rush to classify and evaluate someone. Pause and tarry a while – understand who they are, what they do and how they do it. Then use that understanding to see if they are the right people for the requirements you are considering.

We live in a world of too many labels. We have competency frameworks, skills dictionaries, psychometric tests that add more labels to you. These tools perhaps now overpower and cloud the need to first observe and understand the individual before pronouncing them to be ……

I am not suggesting that we don’t need these tools. I believe all of them add huge value in bringing focus to the processes of selection, assessment and development of people. The point I make is that none of these can precede the need to first observe and understand the individual. Often times, I observe people looking for the labels and perhaps missing the holistic picture of the individual sitting in front of them.

So what am I saying here is:
• Build and hone the ability to observe and understand people in a holistic way. See if you can tell their story – what do they do, what do they believe, why are they doing what they are doing….what are their strengths, what challenges them….

• Use that understanding to classify their abilities, achievements, or traits or label them based on the needs you have. By all means use tools and frameworks to do so.

• Overlay who they are and what you understand of them with your requirements. Articulate the picture that emerges Observe, and understand…don’t label…not just yet…