With the election on us, I am reminded of a lesson I teach when working with organizations to define, attract, hire and retain the best talent – the wisdom of M&M candies.
An M&M’s real value is in its filling, not in its candy coating – the inside matters more than the outside. It is the same with hiring employees and voting for candidates.
You can’t tell by looking at someone if he will be a good or poor fit for a role. As with the M&M (the candy coating on the outside doesn’t add any particular value to taste or to the candy), a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, religion or even sexual preference has no direct correlation to his/her ability to be great in a job. An extraordinary customers service employee is one who is a great listener, empathetic, problem solver and solution-focused. An extraordinary political candidate must be visionary, strategic, a great listener and a consensus-builder. These attributes could be in a 65-year old woman, or in a 23-year old man. These attributes could be in a black employee, or a gay white middle-age Greek man. Greatness is not based on the exterior.
We can’t assess who is a good fit if we don’t hear meaningful dialog about what candidates (political and employment) believe and think. In the workplace we host interviews. We ask talent-based questions to determine how candidates would handle actual workplace situations to assess their thinking and fit – their “filling.” We then hire those who have the talents, passions and strengths to be successful, and celebrate their “candy coating” – whatever it may be. We hire the best. Great organizations hire for the “inside” and celebrate the “outside.”
I am reminded of this as I watch our electoral campaigning. Candidate debates and speeches are our way of “interviewing” candidates for “fit” – to assess their talents, passions and strengths and to see if they are the right for the role. When all we hear are attacks on other candidates we do not have the necessary information to choose wisely about a candidate and we allow our biases to limit our options – so many Americans still have a problem with a black president, gay cabinet members and women on the Supreme Court. We are in an age where the best person for the job is the one that has the talents, passions and strengths (the filling) to do the job – CEO, customer service, senator or judge. I see a constant focus on candy coating instead of filling in the workplace: I also see it in government.
As you hire employees or go to vote, focus on a candidate’s ability to do the job in an extraordinary way, make a difference and add value. You’ll find when you hire or vote for “fit” you’ll get a more passionate, engaged and productive employee or candidate. Things get done. Progress gets made.
One of the reasons I think we are stuck in “average” is we continue to use outdated thinking in both who works in our companies and who works in our government. Shouldn’t we demand performance greatness from both? Shouldn’t we require both to be fully accountable for results? Shouldn’t we improve this process by hiring for fit – by hiring for “filling,” not candy coating?
Maybe if we learn from the M&M, we’ll elect and hire those who show up committed to making a difference. Maybe if we realize it is what you know, what you are good at and how you use what you know to handle today on today’s terms that generates results, we’ll choose wisely about who we want on our team. Who knew there would be so much wisdom in an M&M?