Hiring Advice for Seth Godin – Beware of Six Month Syndrome
By Michelle Malay Carter on May 8, 2008
Kris Dunn at HR Capitalist resurfaced an idea put forth by Seth Godin a while back – when interviewing a candidate, rather than chatting, you should make them work. Copywriters should copywrite. Widget designers should design widgets.
A Good Idea – With a Caveat, Hirer Beware
I have no problem with this, and like most interviewing techniques, this will help you in your quest not to under-hire. But it might backfire as I explained yesterday because it may cause you to overhire. Over qualified candidates would likely do really well under this circumstance.
The Sinister Six Month Syndrome
As a matter of fact, over qualified candidates usually do really well within organizations for about six months. Sadly, just about the time the manager is patting himself on the back for a hiring job well done, a shift occurs, and the candidate’s attitude may change. Extroverts may begin to “mouth off”; introverts may withdrawal.
Matching a person to a job has three components:
1. Knowledge, skills, experience – can they do the job?
2. Values and temperament – will they do the job?
3. Cognitive Capacity – could they do the job? (if the two other factors were in place)
Learning is Engaging
Six Month Syndrome is related to the third factor. Any new job will have a learning curve, even if you are experienced. You need to learn the culture, the people, the processes with the organization. When someone is overqualified in the cognitive capacity realm, the first six months they are traversing their learning curve, but due to their excess cognitive capacity, they’ll have most of their learning wrapped up at about six months. The job itself will no longer be challenging, and there is nothing worse than being bored at work. Our research shows this is a reality for about 1 in 5 people.
Add to that fact that when you are over qualified, you are likely qualified to work at your manager’s job’s level so, suddenly, his work will be more attractive than yours.
Have you ever found a manager who enjoyed being told how to do his job? This is what we might call micromanaging up. Suddenly, your formerly admiring manager might start to experience you as a little arrogant, impatient, showy or disrespectful. The manager will now start wondering what to do about your attitude problem, as you won’t stop playing in his sandbox. Straighten up!
Follow the Leader
To add insult to injury, you won’t find your manager’s advice or leadership satisfying. His thinking won’t add value to yours, as you two are cognitive peers. Humans naturally seek leadership from those who are cognitively ahead of us. Within organizations when this is not our boss, it can be our manager’s manager. Unfortunately, going over the manager’s head for leadership is usually not well received within organizations either. Straighten up!
Let’s Avoid Overhiring
Overhiring is a no win situation for the candidate, the hiring manager, or the organization, but it happens 1 in 5 times. A clear understanding of work levels can cut down on this confusion.
I’m OK. You’re OK. Let’s fix the system.
Have you ever been an attitude problem? Have you ever hired one?