Tag Archives: negative behavior

Spot the Pattern

Raymond still looked puzzled. I think I had him talked out of playing amateur psychologist when interviewing candidates, but asking him to play to his strength as a manager was still fuzzy.

“Look, Raymond. As a manager, you can spot positive behavior and negative behavior on the shop floor. As a manager, you are an expert in positive and negative behavior. That’s the key. All you have to do is ask questions about situations in their prior work experience.

  • What was the task?
  • What was the action they took (their behavior)?
  • What was the result?

The actions they took will tell you how they will behave when they come to work for you.”

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. All you have to do is find out what it was.

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.

Rare Air

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

I have started the process of locating candidates for a Stratum IV position. How do you test an individual for capability given a specific job requirement. Specifically, after narrowing the field of candidates I would like to have them tested for the capability required in the position? Most of the canidates in our pool are age 30-38 and have promise but lack validating comparative experience.

I know you have been following the series we completed yesterday, defining the Level of Work in typical roles.
Calibrating Level I Roles
Calibrating Level II Roles
Calibrating Level III Roles
Calibrating Level IV Roles

I am often asked to interview candidates to assess their current capability or potential capability. It’s like a dog barking up the wrong tree. The cat’s not in that tree.

Instead of attempting to assess the potential capability of the candidate, spend your time defining the Level of Work in the role. Then, interview the candidates related to the work. I know this is a simple solution, but here is the brilliance.

You are absolutely NOT qualified to assess a person’s current or potential capability. Here is my humble news. I’m not either. Leave that assessment to higher powers.

But, managers are absolutely qualified to observe and assess behavior related to work. Competent managers can easily spot positive behavior, negative behavior and can instantaneously tell the difference. Play to your strengths as a manager. Define the Level of Work and interview the candidates related to the work. You will always stand on firm ground within your competence to conduct that interview.

The second part of your question indicates you are working through a young candidate pool, age 30-38, for a Stratum IV role. Elliott’s research is very clear. In the snapshot of a candidate pool, age 21-50, the frequency of people demonstrating capability for Stratum IV roles was 1 in 200. If you can expand your age search up to age 21-70, you will double your odds to 1 in 100. It is rare air. (Source – Life and Behavior of Living Organisms, pp 188).

Assessing Capability

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

How can I tell? You talked about the four states of mental processing. When I look at a person, meet a person, talk to a person, how can I tell? How can I tell if they have Stratum I, II, III or IV capability?

The short answer is, you can’t tell. The longer answer is, it’s not your place to determine capability. Leave that to a higher authority.

Look, you are a manager. You are not an amateur psychologist.

Can you spot positive behavior from your team members? Can you spot negative behavior? Why does it only take nanoseconds for you to tell the difference? Because you are a manager, that’s what managers do. Play to your strengths as a manager.

  • Is it within your authority as a manager to determine what tasks need to be completed?
  • Is it within your authority as a manager to determine a reasonable amount of time for each task?
  • Is it within your authority as a manager to evaluate the effectiveness of the person you have assigned to each task?

That is your playing field. It is within your authority to evaluate the effectiveness of your team members related to the task. There are a handful of factors that contribute to or detract from effectiveness – skills, circumstances, interest, habits. Stay on this playing field, that’s what you are good at.

The question of a person’s maximum capability is not your issue. Your issue, as a manager, is ONLY what is capability related to the task. It’s all about the work.