Is Human Bias Helping You Lay Off the Wrong Employee Talent?

Chris Young
February 12, 2009 — 2,220 views  
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What goes down, comes back up.  The economy will rebound and companies are destroying their future by not completely understanding the talent on their "bus".

With the economy in the "toilet", companies are laying off thousands of employees right now and much of these layoffs are in response to a need to preserve cash.

Layoffs are necessary to help companies preserve their future.  Cash is "king" right now.

Laying off the wrong employee talent will destroy your company's future.

As a Talent Management Consultant specializing in helping my Clients THRIVE (not survive) in good economic times and bad through employee selection, hiring, and retention of the "right employees", I am deeply concerned.

  • I am concerned that the wrong employees are receiving layoff notices.  The vast majority of companies have no scientifically-based ability to measure competencies and therefore are letting some of their best future performers go.  Many companies are laying off the future of their company and do not realize it. 

  • I am concerned that the wrong employees are getting to stay because they are great "high performance posers" and good at schmoozing the right hind ends. 

  • I am concerned about human bias clouding the "who stays" decision and that the wrong employees will stay and further destroy the potential of the organization because their job performance is mediocre at best.  This approach is manifested through companies who keep their "most loyal employees" instead of their highest current and potential performers.

Human bias?  Yes.  Human beings are biased.  Human bias in Talent Management is a fact that is destroying shareholder value every day in untold ways and costs.  If you are interested in learning more about human bias in a highly-readable and interesting format, consider reading Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling books (Blink and Outliers).And because of human bias and the disconnect between Human Resources and the typical business unit, little communication about the dire consequences of poor employee selection strategy happens.

I can be an accountant.  I will just do a poor job of it.  Trust me.  You do not want me to be in charge of your books. 

Point.  The wrong people are getting jobs as accountants and costing companies tremendous resources because they are either not very good or horrible at it.  This is going on in every field in companies across America.

It is time to get real about Talent Management when it comes to selecting and retaining the right employees.  Many HR people and hiring managers still think their "gut" is a good judge of job fit. It is time to understand the value of a scientifically-based selection, hiring, and retention of the right employees who fit the needs of the job.

How do you know if you are laying off your best talent based on the wrong criteria?

Ask yourself the following questions.

Am I using an unbiased Job Benchmark compared to the employee's Personality Profile illustrating Behaviors, Values, and Attributes or am I guessing about the future of my organization? 

Am I using questionable information such as education, certification, experience, and biased references to decide / not decide to hire?

What can you do to ensure you are laying off let the right employees (lowest performers)?

  1. Benchmark the Job

  2. Compare each employee's Personality Profile Assessment measuring Behaviors, Values, and Attributes to the Job Benchmark.

Is work / job experience important?  It can be.  From my experience, I have found that while job experience can be important it does not hold a candle to the "truth-telling" about the potential 

Chris Young


The Rainmaker Group is a human talent maximization company specializing in helping organization maximize their bottom lines by improving employee retention, hiring the best talent possible, and strategic talent management and coaching services. From the Fortune 50 corporation to the small medical office, The Rainmaker Group guarantees lasting organizational change via a unique blend of energy, insight, and science to maximize talent, transform organizational culture, and provide strategic intervention.