Finding the performance factor in Hollywood and in the workplace

A suitable job candidate has qualifications and experience – that much we can assume. But, more importantly, do they have “the performance factor”?

Hollywood’s casting directors have the extremely high-pressured and exhilarating task of finding perfect actors for leading roles.

They’ll work closely with a film’s director, producer, and writer to develop an in-depth character description and a list of requirements for each part. This means that, once the hunt for a star performer begins, the casting director will have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for.

Of course, we as audience members know all too well that casting an actor who will dazzle on the big screen is far more complex than fulfilling a set of pre-determined criteria. What we’re really looking for is “the performance factor.”

What is “the performance factor”?

A performer might have the singing voice of an angel, be classically good-looking, and demonstrate an ability to switch between regional dialects with ease.  Perhaps they can horseback ride with aplomb, ballroom dance like a professional, and shoot a rifle with precision. Maybe the casting director observed them in a recent off-Broadway stage production and was deeply moved by their performance or a string of five-star reviews follows them into the audition room.

An actor may well boast all of these credentials – in fact, many of them do. It’s far more important, however, to find an actor with the performance factor. Do they have the on-screen chemistry, the charisma, the “je ne sais quoi” required to enchant audiences and connect with fellow cast members, ultimately rendering them the one and only choice for a part?

The process of finding this certain someone can take casting directors months, or even years. But following hundreds of auditions, endless screen tests, and a variety of chemistry reads, most of them will eventually get it right.

In this scenario, perhaps it’s no bother that the approach is lengthy and expensive. For starters, casting directors have enormous budgets to play with and audiences of millions to please. Moreover, it would be impossible to quantify the performance factor. How do you define what constitutes the perfect actor at this moment in time to fill a specific role within a particular cast?

That’s all very well if you happen to be a casting director working under Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino. But what happens when it comes to identifying the performance factor in the workplace?

Can we hire like Hollywood in the workplace?

As with casting actors, recruiting the right person for a job is not as simple as selecting the seemingly most qualified candidate. They might possess a highly specialised skill set, come highly recommended by a colleague at another company, or have recently completed a stint in a competitive role at Facebook. But that doesn’t mean they have the performance factor – that is, the unique set of capabilities to succeed in a particular role within your organisation at this particular time.

If hiring was that easy, everyone would get it right. And yet, when hiring managers are questioned on whether they would choose to rehire staff members with the luxury of hindsight, the answer is “definitely not” on one in three occasions. 

Hollywood has no need to revisit its casting methods any time soon. But we know that poor hiring choices dramatically increase turnover and cost businesses time, money and output. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for example, reported that it costs a company an average of 6-9 months of an employee’s salary to replace them.

High attrition rates can occur for several reasons. Some underqualified candidates will lie on their resumes while others will excel in an interview environment but fall short once they enter the workforce. Organisational issues, such as lack of career progression and toxic workplace culture, can also drive turnover and must be addressed.

Nonetheless, the greatest challenge hiring organisations face is neither improving the workplace environment nor hiring qualified candidates. Rather, the difficulty comes in defining what drives top performance to enable the hiring of the right candidates. If you were to ask ten hiring managers to define the capabilities that drive high performance in the same role and in the same company, they would likely return ten different answers – and they can’t all be right.

We know that recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals don’t have the luxury of a Hollywood budget or time-scale. They can’t hold rigorous assessment days for hundreds of applicants or run 12-week trial shifts to assess which applicants will truly excel in a given role.

But imagine if we could expedite that process. How might recruitment be transformed if decision-makers were able to definitively and objectively outline what drives performance within their organisations for specific roles?

That’s where AbilityMap comes in.

Defining the performance factor with AbilityMap

Our next-generation tool can quickly and effectively identify candidates capable of meeting the unique requirements of your business. Here’s how it works:

  • Define: Your organisation’s top 10% of performers in each role provide the blueprint for success. Our tool will pinpoint the unique attributes of this 10%, when reviewed in conjunction with less high-performing employees. This enables us to produce an objective capability profile, essentially defining the performance factor, for any given role.
  • Compare: Prospective hires and upcoming talent within your organisation are assessed and compared against this capability profile.
  • Act: Candidates and employees with the performance factor are identified. This enables you to make better informed hiring choices and smarter workforce planning decisions.

Want to understand more about how AbilityMap can help you make smarter hiring decisions for your organisation? Get in touch with us today.

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