HR Psychographics: “Observable Distaste for Team Sports” While Clinging to Empty Relics of “Human Capital”…

Josh Letourneau Audacious Ideas, HR, Joshua Letourneau, Organizational Development, Recruiting, Social Network Analysis, Social Recruiting

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m straight-up interested in the upcoming research about How HR Thinks and Feels. And if you think I’m saying this because FOT has some stake in it, that just aint true.  Even FOT’s own Tim Sacket wrote a skeptical post about the research, reminding us that we need to be careful forming blanket generalizations against any group of people, not just HR. He’s right.

Here’s my take: I could care less about the generalizations. If you tell me HR is female, yeah, I already knew that. Average age? Yawn. White people?  Yeah, except for the Diversity crew where a White Guy seriously need not apply. PHR or not? Again, this means little to nothing. (Well, outside of the fact that somehow a PHR trumps an MBA in the little echo-chamber of HR. That’s worth investigating because the PHR/SPHR is only a badge of honor among us; other Business Units could care less. You can’t talk PHR with the C-Suite, but you can sure talk MBA. They get that stuff. Either we’re creating value or not; either we’re a cost-center or a profit-center, but I digress.)

What I do care about, however, are the true gems hidden below the volumes of data. For example, when you tell me that, “The prevailing stereotype that HR is extremely status conscious (wanting a seat at the table rather than wanting to make a contribution) is borne out by the set of statistics”, now you’re tapping into something worth exploring further. How does this play into the fact that most HR Executives are male? Is it that the males aren’t content with just reaching the seat at the table? Is it just the Good-Ole Boy Club all over again? I don’t know, but it’s certainly worth a deeper dive.

Here’s another — in the comment section of HRExaminer’s original post, HR is Female, John Sumser writes that “HR has an observable distaste for team sports”.  Whoa, that’s mind-boggling at first glance. I’ll admit this comment really got me thinking.

So here’s where I’m going — I’ve been anti the Human-Capital lens for quite a while now. When I first got into Recruiting, it didn’t take me long to realize that looking at the badges and whistles on somebody’s resume translated quite little to organizational performance. I continue to question why we’re so obsessed with individual-based measures, like GPA, Myers Briggs Personality Types, Performance Ratings (that are provided, ironically, by another individual who largely has their own agenda and biases), Degree Institution, Credit Score, etc.

More and more research is coming out that these Human-Capital obsessed things (like IQ) matter very little to actual team performance. In fact, having too many high-IQ players can hurt more than help. Social sensitivity was listed as the key driver of team performance. Wow, that word “Social” again – yep, it’s much bigger than Social Media.

I could go on, but here’s a question that might resonate: Can anyone tell me why performance assessment solutions, broadly stated, still suck and are not an accurate predictor of success? Any thoughts? I’ll tell you why – because they focus too much on the individual… rather than on how that individual fits into the broader network that actually delivers on the company’s value proposition, thereby creating shareholder value. So the deal is this: There is no such thing as a better mousetrap when the mousetrap itself isn’t catching the mice.

So based on what little I know about the upcoming HR Psychographic research, Sumser’s comment about team-sports aversion popped off the page to me as an insight worth truly exploring on a deep level. If the Business Unit (HR) that purchases Performance Assessment solutions in the first place, has an aversion to team sports (and potentially the essence of “team” in the first place), could this be the key beacon that might be holding HR back from serious growth in the eyes of the other Business Units we support? In a world dominated by Human-Capital metrics that have no correlation to team performance (and thereby, organizational performance), can we progress?

The world just doesn’t work the way we used to think it did. Yet we still cling to the old worldview, just like Alan Greenspan did before the sub-prime mortgage crisis and ensuing collapse of the financial sector. We’re all interconnected, and what’s between us (Social Capital) is much more important than what’s within us (Human Capital). The time has come to think bigger than Human Capital – our very future of moving beyond a cost-center depends on it.