Specialist Recruitment and Consultancy
11th May 2011 | by: robsteed

My football club, Cambridge United, has just appointed a new manager, Jez George.  He was previously in charge of our highly regarded youth setup, and had been managing the first team on a caretaker basis since the last manager was sacked a few months ago.

Reading the message boards, and talking to other fans, there seems to be support for the guy, but a lot of dissapointment and low expectations, based almost entirely on the fact that “he hasn’t done this before”.

Previous experience is used a lot in recruitment as being the key requirement in the search for new team members, but just like at Cambridge United it has very little bearing on whether an individual will be successful or not.  There are many footballing examples to prove this at all levels. Sam Allardyce (Blackburn) and Roy Hodgson (Liverpool) this season for example, had great success at previous clubs, moved to other clubs, failed and got sacked.  Hodgson has since moved to West Brom and become a success again!  In Cambridge United history our two most successful managers (John Beck and Ron Atkinson) had their first league managers job at Cambridge United (both took us to the second tier of English football).  Yet, fans still believe this is a sure sign our new manager will be unsuccessful.

Sadly this logic is echoed all the time in recruitment.  It’s the lazy option for organisations and recruiters, and means we see a roundabout of individuals going from one company to another – all in the same sector.  Some sectors are particularly bad at this, and it happens more in some roles than others – sales is the most typical.

My old ConsultingTools colleague, Ken Nowack at Envisia learning, used to quote a great study into the effectiveness of various methods used in recruitment.  Today’s competition (based on that study) is to tell me which 3 methods below are proven to be the best judge of future performance…

  • Work Sample Tests
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Assessment Centers
  • Peer/Supervisory Ratings
  • Work History
  • Unstructured Interviews
  • Personality Inventories
  • Reference Checks
  • Training Ratings
  • Self Ratings
  • Education
  • Interests / Values
  • Age
*Note that this is a study from Judge, T., Colbert, A. & Ilies, R. (2004).  Intelligence and Leadership: A quantitative review and test of theoretical propositions.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 542-552

The key figure relevant to this blog post is that the validity for ‘work history’ (or previous successes) is between .24 and .35, so is a good predictor between one quarter and one third of the time.  Not even as good a predictor as tossing a coin, yet used much more frequently.

My hope is that organisations and recruiters start to realise that there is more to an individual than the previous experience on their CV.  My other hope is that Jez George is a great success next season!

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