How to Admit You Screwed Up a Talent Decision

“If it weren’t for all the people issues, running this business would be easy.” That’s a tongue in cheek quote from one of my favorite friends at work. He’s not serious, of course…he’s pointing out the complexities involved in people issues. Talent decisions are the hardest ones we make every day. Betting on a rise in pork belly futures or frozen concentrated orange juice is easy in comparison.

The critical challenge of course, is this: People are unpredictable, fragile emotional little creatures. They are managed by unpredictable, fragile emotional little creatures. And those little creatures make talent decisions. Every. Single. Day. Mistakes abound.

And, as we all know, most people don’t like to admit mistakes. That’s why Morgan Stanley backing off their investment in Snap was so refreshing. It’s a recipe for how to admit failures.

“…Banking giant Morgan Stanley (MS, +1.25%) downgraded shares of the disappearing photo app company to the equivalent of “hold.”…. Morgan Stanley’s downgrade is a particularly hard hit for the company as the bank was the lead underwriter for Snap’s IPO, guiding the company through the process and helping determine its initial stock price. Typically, such underwriters become cheerleaders of the company after it officially goes public.

Morgan Stanley analysts … are now less convinced of Snap’s ability to grow. In fact, the analysts effectively refuted the main reasons why Snap’s biggest champions believed in the company at all: its apparent scalability and unique platform.  “We have been wrong about Snap’s ability to innovate and improve its ad product this year (improving scalability, targeting, measurability, etc.) and user monetization…Snap’s ad product is not evolving/improving as quickly as we expected and Instagram competition is increasing.”

First, they admitted they were wrong. Second, they told you what they thought was going to happen. Lastly, they laid out the market forces that impacted the decision. Good blueprint.

Can you imagine if you had the guts to run that recipe around the talent shop?

We are parting ways with Tom. We thought Tom would come in and drive innovation on our sales group, growing to lead that group. In fact, Tom struggled to impact change and was unable to build consensus. We now believe Sally, who has broken 7 new accounts this year, is better positioned to succeed Bernie as the next VP of Sales.

OK, maybe that press release isn’t doable. However, every HR pro reading this knows that those conversations happen in corporate American every day. We thought this about him, we were wrong, now we are backing her. Same recipe, different distribution.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at OutMatch who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our Talent Selection and Employee Development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). 

FOT Background Check

RJ Morris
R. J. Morris is based in the STL as the Director of Talent Acquisition and Management for McCarthy Building Companies, a multi-billion dollar national firm. Like many others in the FOT clan, he’s a sports nut who can endlessly draw the parallels between athletes, sports and the talent management game. I know, I know, as if we needed more of that. He has 10 years of practitioner experience leading talent efforts in corporate HR and another 7 years in leadership roles on the agency side, so he gets both sides of the desk. Talk to R.J. via emailLinkedInTwitter...

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