Tag Archives: results

Results Can Be Misleading

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
In hiring, you caution against the myopia of results-based-performance. We may naively “assume that a company’s results were created by the candidate’s performance, when there are a hundred other things that contribute – reputation, price point, product superiority, terms, another supplier that failed to deliver.”

I would think that a track record of consistent results over an extended period of time would hold a tremendous amount of value. So the question is, are you minimizing the use of results even when there is a proven track record of results over an extended period of time? Or is it just in situations where the “results” are much more limited where it would be difficult to verify that they really are the result of the individual’s actions?

Response:
Yes, results for short sampling periods are always suspect, and, yes, I also have my red flags up, even with a longer term statistical track record of positive results. I am more interested in the behaviors that created the result than in the result. Especially during an interview, I am not in a great position to judge the cause and effect relationships that ended in a positive result. I may be encouraged with positive results, but I will still focus on behaviors.

Coincidence of Results

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“I am not so sure about this candidate,” Marcus explained. “He says he would make a good sales manager, but even on his resume, he has only been in that role for seven months.”

“So, what does he say?” I asked.

“When, I think about it, sounds more like promises,” Marcus nodded. “I asked him what kind of impact he was having on his current sales team. He said that by the end of the year, they were looking at a substantial increase in sales. He said they should have made him sales manager three years ago.”

“But, they didn’t? And, does the increase in sales have anything to do with the sales manager, or is their market just improving? You are basing your judgment of effectiveness based on a result (that hasn’t even happened, yet). You have fallen in a trap. Results based performance is a trap.”

“But, results are important,” Marcus defended.

“And, results can be a sucker punch. You assume the results were created by the performance, when there are a hundred other things that contribute – reputation, price point, product superiority, terms, another supplier that failed to deliver. Results are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. When you abdicate your judgment of effectiveness based on results, you ignore the candidates behavior. What are the behaviors you expect out of your sales manager?”

Marcus had to stop and think. “Coaching, goal setting, teaching, observing, giving constructive feedback, encouraging, bringing out the best in his sales team.”

“So, interview for those behaviors. Effectiveness in those behaviors will tell the story of your candidate. Don’t be fooled by a result (that hasn’t happened yet).”

Results Can Deceive

“Look at this resume,” Karla announced. “This candidate joined his company as a sales rep two years ago and took it through 85 percent increase in growth. That’s an impressive result. That is almost a double in revenues over two years.”

“You are impressed by a result?” I asked.

“Of course. You know what we say, we are all about results. Results driven performance,” she replied.

“I know you are enamored with the result, but aren’t you curious about how those results were achieved?”

“Well, yes, I will ask interview questions about how, but results don’t lie,” Karla proclaimed.

“Results may not lie, but they can deceive,” I said. “Do you think this person single-handed created those results? Is it possible that the company had a great reputation built on a history of customer service? Is it possible this industry was in an up-tick and all the competitors shared the same success? Is it possible that your candidate was just lucky enough to be sitting in the room when all this happened?”

“Okay, okay. I was just thinking if I picked this candidate and it didn’t work out, I could always point to what he did at his last company,” she admitted.

“You have to go back to the role. What are our critical role requirements? Besides, if this candidate was so responsible for those results, why is he looking for a job with us?”