Knee-jerk Stupidity

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

NZLead, run with passion and downright honest hard work by Amanda Sterling and Tash Pieterse, is arguably one of the very best sources of conversation and thinking on workplace matters on the planet. The quality of contributors is incredibly high and the most recent guest post by Rebecca Smith is a prime example. You can read that post in full here.

As with all great blogposts it got me thinking immediately and I almost rushed into print with a response. I had to pop out to drop the kids off at school and this gave me pause for thought. My knee-jerk response to Rebecca’s piece was perhaps more instructive about my thinking than about the actual topic under consideration. The post I composed in my head as I first read through the piece started something like this:

ccI’m disturbed by this sort of approach by recruiters and it brings to mind an image of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; recruiters trawling like a sinister, net-wielding presence through social media feeds, inveigling themselves into networks in search of prey; cynically appropriating the likes and dislikes of their targets to falsely demonstrate a shared sensibility.

Just how bloody stupid and narrow-minded that looks now I see it actually in print up there on the internet for everyone to see. And just how bloody stupid and narrow-minded my thinking in the first place!

People freely and consciously put their thoughts and opinions out on their feed. Taken into consideration with other information they provided it helps prospective recruiters, whether internal or external, to build a fuller, richer picture of prospective candidates and to filter them from other possibilities. There will undoubtedly be some who abuse this openness but ethical businesses and consultants will be equally open about their motives and approach candidates with transparency and honesty. If they truly understand the hiring business and organisational culture and values they will be better able to sort the wheat from the chaff. All of which is a good thing and all of which is of course covered in Rebecca’s post and is much more obvious after a considered second reading.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink”, he describes the main subject as “thin-slicing”. That is, that our spontaneous decisions might be just as good as those we carefully plan. This doesn’t factor in the sort of stupid knee-jerk thinking I was guilty of this morning. It is especially important when it’s people we’re talking about. People deserve consideration and not to simply be thin-sliced. So don’t rush to snap judgements as I did. Get yourself the richest picture you can of the individual, taking time to understand and appreciate them. Their social media presence will fill in some of the blanks in advance, a thoughtful conversation will do the rest.


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