Legacy Thinking in Human Resources (Part 2)

Legacy Thinking in Human Resources

Last week I wrote about Legacy Thinking in Human Resources and the fact that HR departments, and companies in general, need to dump their “legacy thinking” in order to meet the requirements of a fast moving, fast changing present. I gave many examples of legacy thinking in HR, one of which was a “Fear of Millennials.” I want to explore that one a bit more.

Changes in attitudes

According to author and futurist Jacob Morgan, in his book The Future of Work, the nature of work is radically changing. One manner in which it is changing is that millennials are deciding that a college education that focuses on knowledge, much of which will be obsolete by the time they graduate, will not be conducive to their success. Rather they are focused on learning how to learn, and as a result are eschewing formal college educations. They are focusing on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), such as found on Coursera, where they can study subjects that they feel will enhance their value in the workplace.

The conflict

The legacy thinking of companies conflicts with this change. We all know that companies filter resumes on the basis of whether or not a college degree is present. The absence of any sort of degree is an immediate disqualification for a position. I remember reading about a law firm that was even requiring college degrees for their administrative positions, even though there was no evidence that there was any job relevance. As a result of the legacy thinking of companies and changing attitudes of millennials companies run the risk of missing talented workers.

The ability to think

Rather than looking for candidates that have a potentially defunct knowledge base in today’s world Morgan suggests that what we need to be looking for is candidates that have a demonstrated ability to think. The problem with that idea is what demonstrates a candidate’s ability to think? You are not going to find that on a résumé, at least not in any testable form. There are however assessments that can help determine is a candidate is able to think. Profiles International has an assessment called the Profile XT that looks at a candidate’s ability to think and reason. I know, I have taken the assessment. I am sure there are other assessments that perform the same function. We just need to use them.

Of course that is another area of legacy thinking. We don’t want to spend the money and take the time on an assessment. We are uncomfortable with them. In many cases we may actually think they are a waste of time. We think our interview skills are sufficient to make a determination if someone has the ability to think, so we ask dumbass questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” Hate to tell you, but in this day and age that is a knowledge question. It is in all the books.

Dump the legacy

In this day and age of fast paced, rapidly changing circumstances we need to have people that can think on their feet. We don’t really need a “bucket” of knowledge that can be “googled”. We need someone that knows what to do with that knowledge. We need thinkers. So if one of your legacies is the requirement of a college degree you may want to reevaluate your thinking.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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