The next idea that I wish to address would be what I refer to as the Promotion of the Unqualified. If you have spent anytime whatsoever working in Corporate America, I am certain that the phrase “How did he/she get that job?” has proceeded from your lips. It’s like grass, it’s everywhere. There is absolutely no organization immune to such symptoms. So, what causes these situations? Well, I am about to explain, but first I would challenge you to change your thought pattern….From this moment on, I want you to ask yourself “How does he/she keep that job?”
Well before we can dive into the subject of unwarranted promotion, it is important to understand about modern hiring practices, which is better known to my MBA decorated readers as organizational staffing. Obviously before one can be promoted, one must be hired. The reason I point this out is because you; the reader, needs to understand why the pool that You swim in is so shallow, how You are in a drawer full of dull knives, how You are kept prisoner in a shed full of blunt tools! The reason for this is simple; it is the cumulative result of hiring legislation that is present in America, most of which has been birthed from absurd lawsuits.
Before we proceed, it is necessary that I make the distinction between weight bearing and non-weight bearing legislation. Many of you by now have the words affirmative action running through your minds, but how many of you have actually studied the law behind the term, conversely, how many of you have simply formed your opinion about the law based on what the media has fed you over the years? Wasn’t it delicious? I would not have you look at affirmative action, the actually impact it has on the hiring process today is negligible when you consider all of the other Federal legislation (EEO/AA) that exist. Before we proceed further, I would have you understand some new terms.
First let us review the modern concept of Disparate Treatment. Disparate Treatment is a term that is used in organizational staffing to describe an employer who deliberately discriminated against a protected class. Essentially, a member of a protected class (age, minority, sex, race) applies for a certain position along with another applicant who is not a member of a protected class, and all education/experience being equal, if the employer does not chose the member of the protected class, they may face litigation on the basis of Disparate Treatment. So, as harsh as this will sound, If I, a white male 28 years of age apply for the same position as a 40 year old woman, where both of us are qualified for the position, if the woman is not hired and I am, she can sue the company on the basis of Disparate Treatment by siting the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967). But don’t worry, that would never really happen because the company will need her to enhance its “organizational profile” in its documented AAP (Affirmative Action Plan.) Well, I guess we just can’t ignore the old AAP after all.
Now on to Disparate Impact. This one will really get your goat. This term is also commonly referred to as Adverse Impact, but essentially what it means is that an employer can be found guilty of discrimination against a protected class if said employer did not intend to discriminate, but their hiring procedures unintentionally favored certain groups. Hold that thought, we have one more definition and then we will weave our basket of truth! Some organizations in America actually believe that they wish to hire the smartest people they can to fulfill their open positions. I know…it’s shocking!! But these utopia aspiring fools and practitioners of logic actually try to get away with it. Uncle Sam says that may hurt someone’s feelings...so, maybe they should stop. Here is how this injustice presents itself.
Current EEO laws allow organizations to use interviews, applications, background checks, etc. as “predictors” for hiring purposes. In addition, current legislation also allows these corporations to use a tool know to many as Cognitive Ability Tests. Basically, it is an exam used to judge your innate and learned capacity to function, (aptitude and achievement.) Seems like a fair concept. I am an employer who wishes to hire the brightest and most gifted individual that I can find to run my facility, so I will test applicants and use their scores in my selection process. I personally can think of no fairer way to hire an external applicant. Well, guess what? Some American courts and their gifted justices beg to differ. In fact it has been stated by members of the US legal system that this can incur Adverse Impact because according to the courts Blacks score on average 1 standard deviation below Whites, and Hispanics score 0.72 standard deviations below Whites. So, its okay for the American Courts to cite these statistics, and yet allow the employer who is trying to hire the best employee they can to be charged with an Adverse Impact Discrimination lawsuit? Anything about that seem a little backward?
Anyway, that has led us to this point. Hopefully, you now know some of the backward thinking that takes place when it comes to getting “qualified” people in the door. If we were to be astute in our observations, I think it would be no stretch at all to discern that the majority of our modern EEO laws are Reactive in nature. But actually, isn’t all legislation when it comes to such matters? Now you know where the rest of the dull knives came from that you are surrounded by. I think it is time to promote somebody. Let’s get started!
This is really the essence of this section. The “Promotion of the Unqualified.” America has a ruthless problem. Due to the fear of litigation, we rarely wish to fire anyone based on a job performance that is found wanting. We have tools to address such matters, such as probation, “do better” speeches, coaching, mentoring, S1D1 grid placement, etc. It is difficult to fire anyone in the Fortune 500 without plenty of documentation to CYA the corporation in case of ensuing litigation. Thus, we just shift them around, just like a 4 year old child picking at his broccoli. It is much easier to just move this person to a more manageable position, wither it be laterally, or upwards. Yes, you have seen individuals promoted based on the fact that they needed to be moved out of the way. Why? Well, the answer is simple. In the lower and mid-level ranges of an organization, profit producing and necessary work is actually accomplished, conversely in higher positions; most people are responsible for goal setting and attending meetings. If you have an “unqualified” employee come up with a bad idea in a budget meeting, his thoughts can be ignored or twisted. If that same individual has a bad idea on a $4 million dollar project install, the company just lost a great deal of money. Get the picture? You should look at the back side of the coin.
With the above stated difficulty concerning the attainment of qualified external applicants, why would a corporation ever allow an individual who is good at their job to be promoted. Well, actually they don’t. It is fairly common to keep the good trench soldiers in the trenches, literary. For instance, there was once a private first class on the western front during WWI. He was assigned to be a dispatch runner, taking messages from local HQ up to the front lines. It was often said that this particular individual would carry other runner’s messages if they ever got scared or trapped by enemy fire. This private’s commanding officers would not allow him to move up in the ranks due to the fact that he was so good at his job. Who was this soldier…it was Adolf Hitler.
So, what are we left with? An organization where the gifted are stuck in mid and low level positions, while the “Unqualified” are moved to the side or promoted, making live more difficult,….and taking Reactive measures! In addition, we also have a bad habit of promoting people through the ranks until they reach a position in which they suffer, and because it is frowned upon to remove them our pull them back one rung, we leave them there to flop like a fish. Is that how we truly wish to staff our organizations? Is that how we want to reward a good employee?
It must be, because we certainly are not changing our ways.