My Dubious Relationship with my Gut

Kendra Prospero, CEO, Turning the CornerBy Kendra Prospero
CEO, Turning the Corner, LLC

 

What are Your Hiring Decisions Based On?

When people say “I trust my Gut” I feel like I am going to throw up. Ok, that may be too strong of a start, but I have to be honest, it really bothers me. We work with a lot of hiring managers and I hear over and over, “I trust my gut when I hire.” I always cringe when I hear this. I’m from Boulder, so this is a common approach to many things, but the reality is that “Gut” means, “Given Up Thinking.” You cannot afford to trust an inaccurate thing like your gut when hiring people for your business.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying forget your instincts. They are a good indicator about people, but they cannot be the only thing you check when you’re hiring. The only way you can really trust your gut is when objective things support the way you are feeling.

Here are four scenarios which tell you not to trust your gut:

  • You fly by the seat of your pants when you’re hiring people and you don’t have a plan for determining what you really need prior to actually starting the process. Unfortunately, you’ve been bitten a few times. There are times when it is good to go with the flow, but when you are making an investment in a person that has the potential to change the direction of your company you need to make sure you are spending your time and money wisely. Too many managers have made a decision based totally on instincts and have found themselves sitting in front of their superiors struggling to explain their choice when the individual doesn’t perform.
  • Abraham Lincoln said “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” Too often we will mold a person into someone we already know. If you’ve met someone you don’t like and they remind you of the person you’re interviewing, you might automatically not like this person. Do not judge someone by their cover. You are seriously missing out on some great potential when you do this. Some of my best friends and employees are individuals, who at first, didn’t seem like someone I would like because they acted like a person from my past, yet now, we are practically inseparable. Your instincts are valuable, but make sure it isn’t your issues causing the uncomfortable feeling before you send them away.
  • Your gut has let you down before. If you’ve ever been wrong, this is proof that this technique is fallible. I know a person that as a young manager hired a key employee simply on instinct. He had the “gut feeling” that this person would become a star. Instead, the employee almost lost an important account, proved to be apathetic and almost destroyed a strong team. The young manager learned his lesson, and now looks at all the indicators and consults his instincts instead of blindly moving forward.
  • Perhaps the most telling indication that you need a pattern change is when other people in your life, whom you trust, do not agree with your gut. This probably means you have a blind spot and unless you are careful or lucky, it will eventually cause a catastrophic failure. Listen to the people around you whom you respect and can trust to be honest. If you have a particularly strong feeling, get their opinion to support it. You may find that sometimes your gut is right on, but other times it is dangerously off course. Trusted advisors will help you determine the proper direction.

Work with Your Instincts Not for Them

Some of the greatest innovations, victories and hires occurred when an individual trusted their gut feelings. However, if look at the entire picture, you will also find there was research, knowledge and advisors to help them come to the right conclusion. Listening to your feelings can help you once all the interviews are over, the references are called, the former employer’s opinions are in, and you have spoken with your team. At this point, it is a good time to consult your gut. I’m positive the most successful hiring managers and people are those who listen to their instincts without being ruled by them.

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