Recently, I have been reading few articles about recruitment or the best way to select the best candidates. The month of September is usually prolific about this topic.
As a consultant, I had the opportunities to meet few influential people: executives, head of different departments, Director, and shareholders. Looking for a new position can be considered stressful by most of the people. From my view, it is more a new adventure, the possibility to discover a new culture, to confront your view with others, eventually to learn a new language and to find a challenge which fits all aspects of your personality and professional skills.
Society works when the system allows everybody to find his place in the society and to allow the most qualified people accessing responsibilities in the interest of the community. This is true in politics but also in a private corporation. We are living in a world in a perpetual movement where significant shifts are happening. New powers are emerging, developed countries need to move toward to a new economic model, uncertainties have never been so high, and new threats are rising: fundamentalist, extremism or cyber-threats. All economic sectors are shaken by a world more global every day and a technology revolution which has just started. In such environment, you expect to meet real leaders, imaginative and very knowledgeable people.
Well, the reality is sometimes different, and I can summarise my different experiences in three types.
Let first talk about the majority case; I call it “The French citadel”. You meet the person or the group of individuals you will report to if you are recruited. You need to be knowledgeable enough to do the job and fitting in the corporate culture. You will automatically fail if you do not satisfy these conditions and eventually fail if somebody else is better than you are in this particular context. As a recruiter, I have always been looking for new talents able to bring new ideas, to challenge me as far they shared the value of the corporate organisation and fit in the team in term of personality. But, the most important consideration of the “French citadel” is to keep the citadel safe. They want to make sure nobody is going to challenge their position. They are not looking for talent, they are looking for continuity. If you are too smart, you have no chance, you are not a talent, you become a threat.
I called the second case “The Chamberlin phenomena”. The candidate met the human resources, twice the primary deciders, and he spent a day meeting his team, making a case presentation. All the experience and feedback are great. He is just waiting for the email or phone call saying, yes we want you. Well, sometimes, he can wait for long. The inability for some people in charge to make a decision is impressive and translate a miss of leadership which can be identified in politics as in the private corporation.
Finally, the final case is probably the most worrying, I called it “The Trump Effect”. Imagine a candidate applying for a very important position where he is going to be in charge of billion and managing the most substantial liabilities of the company. Indeed, it is an expensive recruitment and a long process involving Board members, executive and external evaluators. It comes to the most important step of the recruitment. The candidate is going to be confronted to a panel of experts and expose his case. Well, in two hours of meeting, he had the most stupid questions I ever heard. After fifteen hours of the process, he did not have one single query questioning his technical skills to do the job or the challenges the industry was and will face. As, President Obama mentioned it in one of a brilliant speech, “In politic and life, it is not cool to don’t know what you are talking about”. He could say that this day to this most unexpected panel of experts he never met.
These experiences are symptomatic of what is happening in this world. The contestation of the elite in different countries highlighted by the Republican Primary election of Donald Trump in the US, the Brexit referendum in the UK or the victory of Victor Duterte in Philippine Presidential Election are different examples of “the Trump effect”. The “Chamberlain phenomena” or the miss of leadership in Europe is driving the European Union toward to destruction of a model and send some countries in the hand of extremism. The “French citadel” is blocking society, encouraging conservatism and avoiding progress. Unfortunately, I am not sure the fate of reason will overcome the fears.