Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poor Casting

We've all seen films in which parts were poorly cast. This is no reflection upon the talent of the actors. It is simply a poor match between the person and the part.

What is surprising is how often poor casting is ignored in the workplace. Extraordinary attempts are made to transform an individual who completely lacks the capacity and inclination to perform in a particular role. The person is sent to workshops, given mentors, and coached with the underlying belief that, with sufficient training, all is achievable.

Sometimes, more negative inducements are employed. Disciplinary action and threats are given and yet the result is the same. Management is disappointed by a performance that any objective observer could have predicted from the start. Ed or Mary is not cut out for sales, HR, etc. It is not a good fit.

Why do organizations squander time and energy in these hopeless transformational efforts? Perhaps because the same people ordering those actions were responsible for miscasting the person in the first place. Once the blunder has been made, it can be very tempting to justify the decision by changing the person. If the person fails to respond to these generous gestures, then it is much easier to blame the victim of the poor casting.

After all, he or she was given every chance.

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