Experience Producing Pigeonholing At Work
Experience does a poor job reflecting the entire breadth of our talents. Yet, it’s what all companies ask for when hiring. The problem is that experience is a poor indicator of success on the job. The best indicator is directly observing one doing the job.
Yet, while one might do one job well, it’s hard for managers to see him do another one well. That’s because pigeonholing causes them to see him as only good at that first job. It’s his experience that’s blinding them. In short, experience puts the worker in a box.
People’s Talents Exceeding Their Experience
As a guide, people’s talents exceed their job experience. This is very true of larger companies very jobs are far more specific and focused than in smaller companies. Thus, as the size of the company increases, the talents it taps of its employees decreases.
In other words, the pigeonholing at work becomes more severe. The hole becomes smaller. That means managers have a harder and harder time imagining people doing anything else but the work that they’re currently doing.
Finding In-House Talent Means Looking For Talent, Not Experience
We most commonly experience this pigeonholing when firms say, “You lack the experience.” They don’t say, “You lack the talent.” Since experience falls far short of expressing people’s total talent array, pigeonholing at work blinds managers to the wealth of talent lying right under their noses.
For example, managers declined an in-house employee for a job because he didn’t have experience managing a multi-million dollar budget. Yet, all budgeting boils down to basic math, maybe some regression analysis. The candidate though had tested out of math and statistics classes in college to take higher level ones in those fields.
Thus, firms seek talent elsewhere. It’s usually outside. Hiring costs go up. Training costs go up. Hiring risks go up too. It’s because pigeonholing blinds managers. They don’t see their employees as whole people. They see them as partial ones.
Finding gold is never easy. When we do find it though, it’s worth the effort. Make no mistake. There is gold in your workforce. Don’t let pigeonholing blind you.