Tag Archives: amateur psychologist

A More Accurate Judgement of Capability

I do not judge a person’s capability. I am not that smart. I have no authority to try to climb inside the head of a teammate, a colleague or a spouse (careful!). While I took a course of study and a minor in psychology, I have no degree, am not certified nor licensed by the state to practice psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.

People are complicated, tough to figure out. So, stop.

But work, work I understand. I understand the decisions that have to be made and problems that have to be solved. As managers, we are all expert at the work. Don’t play amateur psychologist, play to your strengths, as a manager.

I do not judge a person’s capability. I do, however, judge effectiveness, effectiveness in a role that I have selected them to play. Either the person is effective, or not. That, I can judge.

So, get out of the people judgement business and get into the role judgement business. -Tom Foster

No Voodoo, No Amateur Psychology

“What is the Time Span capability required in my sales people?” Dennis asked.

“Sucker-punch question that will lead you down the wrong path,” I replied.

“Not sure I understand?” Dennis quizzed.

“Define the Level of Work, then ask if your salespeople are effective at that work.

“Not sure I understand the difference. Don’t we get to the same place?” Dennis pressed.

“I don’t think so,” I surmised. “Trying to determine the Time Span capability in a person prompts us to play amateur psychologist.”

Dennis mulled over the thought, so I continued.

“Identifying the Level of Work in the role is the work of a manager. Evaluating the effectiveness of the person we have assigned to this role is the work of a manager. There is no voodoo, no amateur psychology.”

Amateur Psychology

“How many of you took a psychology course in high school or college?” I asked. A few hands went up. “And how many of you have a degree in psychology?” Most of the hands go down, still leaving one in the air. “And are you certified by the state to practice either as a psychotherapist or a psychoanalyst?” The single hand dropped.

We were talking about hiring and the tendency of the manager to try to climb inside the head of the candidate to discover motivations and intentions. “Stop trying to play psychologist! You are not qualified to do it,” I said, looking straight at Raymond.

“But, I think it is a valid question,” snapped Raymond. “I just want to see where their head is at.”

“That’s the problem. You are not trained to make that kind of psychological evaluation. Listen,” I continued, with another question, “How many of you, as a manager, can spot positive behavior out on the floor?” The hands were tentative, but every hand in the room went up. “And how many of you can spot negative behavior out on the floor?” All the hands rose higher. “And how long does it take for you to spot it?”

“Immediately, on the spot, right away,” came the replies.

“Here it is, then. Stop trying to play amateur psychologist, you are not qualified. Play to your strength. You can spot positive and negative behavior in an instant because you are a manager. Play to your strength as a manager.