What a job rejection taught me about human-centric success. 3 benefits of genuine conversation.

When you’re in technology, especially an area so focused on the quantitative, you can forget that technology is seldom the whole solution —it’s an enabler to that solution, a tool for the journey. 

Unfortunately, a lot of tech is mistakenly sold as a silver bullet. That’s understandable because you want your baby to be the only thing anyone ever needs for a particular use case. But I’d suggest that most of the time we’d be better off selling tech as part of a context, and in the case of human-centric technology, it should be seen as something that can deepen human understanding, deliver meaningful human insights and even lead to unexpectedly valuable human outcomes.

This might seem a little fluffy, but it’s not. We’re living through incredibly challenging times when it comes to building teams, maintaining company culture, preventing attrition, and supporting people wellbeing. And most people would admit they have almost no clue when it comes to finding that cultural sweet spot where productivity hums and happy humans don’t leave because they have found their fit.  

Why do we need genuine conversations?

  1. You save time:  Since you go into the human engagement equipped with meaningful data, you don’t go in blind. Time is saved and a richer experience delivered.
  2. You save cost: If you’re talking avoiding churn and delivering lifetime employee productivity, a fifteen minute chat enabled by human-centric tech is the ultimate ROI no-brainer.
  3. You get scalability: Because time and cost aren’t preventative here, the tech-enabled human conversation is easily scalable. Not only that you don’t need to add another professional assessment interpreter because reference criterion strategy is already built-in.

There isn’t a single tech product that will fix this profoundly ‘human’ problem, only humans amplified by technology can. I’m co-founder and CEO of a company called AbilityMap. Part of what we do is conduct evaluations on would-be job candidates to determine their suitability for a role. I used to think that our mapping was mostly about drawing clear connections between candidate and role. It is that, but as a human, actually using what we sell myself, I’ve discovered that it does a lot more: it has provided me with a way into a genuine human conversation where in the past such a conversation would be impossible.  

In doing so, it has taught me that our best technology should work on two levels. Both what it is functionally supposed to do (e.g., assess a job applicant) and what is ultimately humanly valuable (e.g., deliver the best human result for that applicant and the organisation).

Here’s what happened to make me realise this. We were looking to fill a role in our own company. I had interviewed a great guy and was sold on him being the way to go for us. But his imprint, our name for the output of our assessment tool, immediately showed that the job he would be a perfect fit for —the one that would really fulfil him— wasn’t the one we actually had on offer.

I knew that as much as I liked him, the imprint had to be the last word on the hire. We simply weren’t ready for what he could bring us. We needed a self-starter to pioneer a new channel, but he fit as a success manager for an established one. 

So this is the conversation we had: transparent, engaging, and, wait for it, inspirational. He left without getting the job, but was uplifted by a firm knowledge of what he really should be doing next. He actually said he wanted to work with us and hoped to do so in the future – me too. 

I was uplifted because I could affirm someone’s career promise in a way that was substantial, real and human. He knew that I was acting in his best interest and ours —not off the subjective outcome of an interview in isolation. By being able to identify how he would thrive by helping customers get more value, but struggle in the pioneering role, I was able to co-navigate his next career move with him.

Unfortunately, organisations miss this opportunity all the time when making recruitment decisions. This is one of the major reasons why companies get hiring decisions wrong so frequently, and why attrition rates are so high. 

Someone who performs very well in an interview setting can convince an employer that they will be adept at the role, and conversely, an individual who performs poorly at interviews could be perfect for the role but are not given the opportunity to shine because they don’t make an immediate impression. Moreover, when you fail to define, compare and act, you ensure lost opportunity and frustration as people and their best roles fail to connect.

It is so important for organisations to get this right, as employees who are not suited to a role will often struggle, experience burn out, perform poorly, and ultimately have a detrimental effect on the performance of the organisation as a whole. 

The genuine conversation, enabled by human-centric tech insights, changes all that by offering an opportunity for the best in us to emerge and be recognised. Imagine how many “right” people are in the wrong roles around the world and you realise that we have an enormous human challenge —solving it will change lives and organisations in a powerful way.

<a href="https://abilitymap.com/author/merlin/" target="_self">Mike Erlin</a>

Mike Erlin

Mike Erlin, based in Sydney and a native San Franciscan, is an experienced technology executive across education & industry across North America & Asia Pacific. He’s built and led high performing teams for some of the globe’s most innovative and successful human capital technology companies. Prior to AbilityMap, Mike led Cornerstone OnDemand’s (CSOD) ANZ business for the Enterprise & Mid-market/SMB solutions.

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