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What Does the Moneyball Concept Teach About Hiring?
We can learn a lot about hiring from the moneyball concept—defined as finding undervalued talent by using analytical and statistical data. One of the interesting concepts related to the moneyball approach is the importance of paying the right price for talent that fits a specific need or strengthens a specific part of a team. To achieve success with the moneyball approach is by uncovering and utilizing people’s individual strengths to achieve broader organizational goals. Objectively profiling and benchmarking people creates a statistical method for categorizing your talent into the correct roles and identifying high achiever potential. Identifying people’s natural strengths and competencies ignores things like education, experience and qualifications purposely in order to look a person’s actual abilities. Therefore, by identifying potential, you can hire people with less experience—thus reducing costs and strengthen employee loyalty.
Assessing people for aptitude, character, emotional intelligence (EQ) and core competencies is all about finding who has real potential to be a winner. If we focus too much on things like education, experience and other qualifications, we are ignoring many of the hidden intangible qualities needed for success on the job. The hardest qualities to detect are personality, attitude problems, initiative, true motivation levels, core critical thinking skills and—surprisingly—people skills. Just because a person is likable does not necessarily mean he or she is great at dealing with others.
Many times it is the not-so-obvious qualities that help people succeed in life. In baseball, it might be on-base percentage. In business, it can be as simple as completing tasks timely and efficiently, or thinking outside the box consistently. Assessing people for the “complete picture” can help you find potential star qualities that competitors or other companies have never utilized.
An example that takes just one component of this “hiring for potential” concept focuses on personality fits. Assessments and benchmarking can also help you identify which roles a person will excel at. Focusing an analytical manager’s efforts into systemizing and improving efficiencies may yield greater results than having that same manager supervise your sales team. It is important to recognize a person’s aptitude and potential for greatness up front in order to position your human talent effectively.
Many people focus on the statistical lessons learned from moneyball. Although those are important, you need to learn to use that information to position your human talent in the right places for optimal execution. If you are going to play a pitcher who doesn’t strike out many hitters, you will probably want to play more defensive players. In business, you may find it rewarding to reposition your team based on the project ahead of it. It could mean changing team leaders depending on the project or bringing in talent from different departments. The more objective data you have about your team and the better you can identifying your team’s strengths and weakness, ultimately the more effective your strategic planning can be.
Putting it Into Practice
Too often leaders try to manage their team by feel or touch, Brad Pitt’s character Billy Beane, demonstrates the need to stay objective when making key personnel decisions. How do you duplicate the moneyball concept in your own organization? Start by benchmarking your team using objective statistical information; this should be done through testing and using your manager’s experience with each person. Make a list of the core personalities and competencies for each person on your team, then categorize these qualities into four quadrants that are complementary of each other. For example, we use these quadrants: Analyzers, Jonah Hill, are opposite of Expressive, Baseball players, types, and Controllers, Brad Pitt, are opposite of Empathizers, Casey Billy Beane’s Daughter. OK—but why are opposite personalities complementary? Because they make up for each other’s weaknesses and often get along better with each other. They need someone to complement each other’s weaknesses because opposites attract, right? Make sure to include skills and competency strengths under each person’s name; this is about matching personalities and skills together onto one super team.
Let’s examine one potential scenario. You have a project to improve customer satisfaction levels from 80 percent to 90 percent, so first you are going to hire an empathizer to help you gain insight into your customers’ concerns. You may need an Expressive to go out and gather all the data. You will then need someone to make sense of all the information gathered; that’s where the Analyzer’s role comes in. Lastly, this project has to get done on time and under budget, so who is going to bring together all these detail-freak, bleeding-heart freethinkers? (Expressives tend to be creative.) The Controller. A baseball team is a perfect example of this; it is unlike any other sport in that you need great power hitters, on-base guys, defensive players and pitchers working together to deliver wins day in and day out.
Here is a simple exercise. Fold a piece of paper in four, create your complementary categories into their respective quadrants and put the opposites diagonal from each other. For example, mine has Analyzers at the top left, Expressives on the bottom right and Controllers on the top right, with Empathizers on the bottom left. Put the names of all the people in your department into their respective personality quadrants, and list some of their skills and competencies along with their names. The next time you have a project to complete, look at your list and from the quadrants pick the people who have the skills and competencies that are needed. Put them on the same team…then let them loose.
You can use aptitude and competency assessments to help you better identify these people and benchmark your best people for future roles that need to be filled. Thehiretalent.com offers a full range of assessments for these purposes.
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