The Right Person for the Job

There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether Tony Blair is the right man for the job of EU President. Most of us know that he isn’t. The same goes for Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

Sometimes in industry, failing to choose the right person for the job can lead to fairly instant removal as the case of Ian Smith the former Chief Executive of Reed Elsevier shows – he was forced out after barely eight months in the job. Apparently it was felt that, as an outside appointment, he lacked sufficient knowledge of Reed, the information giant, to be in charge in such difficult times.

Ignoring the fact that our politicians are in effect outsiders who take up leading positions and are expected to master them instantly and disregarding the fact that they can make horrendous howlers and we (in effect the shareholders of Enterprise UK) can’t force them out, it just shows how crucial selecting the right person for the job is.

Recruitment is now something of a black art – involving psychometrics, role-play, 360 degree feedback, testimonials and interviews with colleagues and former colleagues. It is normal for teams of people to do the interviewing of candidates that have already been pre-selected by headhunters. But such is the complexity of human beings and their behaviour that getting the right person for the job is still almost impossible to do.

A simple example of this – how many headhunters, HR specialists, economists, bankers etc would select Mervyn King to be Governor of the Bank of England if he was not already in post? He cannot be said to be inspirational. His appearance does not radiate decisiveness in decision-making. Face to face communication skills are weak. He announces bad news in a way that makes it seem even worse and announces good news in a way that you think it won’t last.

But, when he speaks, if the pound has been rising, it falls again. And maybe that is what he wants to achieve. So is he getting the results? And proving he is the man for the job?

Published on Dec 03, 2009 by Neil Thomas