How many times have you been in a situation where you observed or overheard someone say “now, if this person over here was doing this other person’s job, things would improve around here!” ?
In my experience, many colleges and universities seem to have a very difficult time with talent management, and “thinking outside the box” regarding appropriate staffing assignments in general. In more instances than I care to admit, I've observed the rare talents of an individual are ignored or even resented by middle and senior management. Instead, they often insist that the underappreciated individual keep doing the job they were hired to do, even though that job is much more common and easily replaceable by new or existing staff. The opportunity that the rare skills held by the individual would bring to the organization if properly focused is completely missed.
My own philosophy on hiring is to “hire smart”, and worry about the missing technical skills later. Those skills are easily learned and expanded upon by a new hire who is in the “smart” category. On the other hand, I see many instances where hires are made solely based on credentials that have little or no bearing to the actual job duties and needs (whether expressed or hidden) of the institution. While advanced degrees are important, and are themselves a measure of an individual’s ability to learn (and somewhat of a yardstick on “smartness”), they cannot be the sole determining factor in placing an individual in a given job. In the ideal university, the senior leadership team would be “talent management experts”, and would understand the importance of putting the right person in the right job at the right time. This is something that the military has had figured out for years, at least in wartime, with the concept of “battlefield promotions”. It is often the case that only under fire do the true qualities or lack thereof of a given individual/leader come into sharp focus.
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