Recently, I decided to hold a high tea at my house and we invited some friends to join us. We enjoyed an afternoon of scones with clotted cream and jam, little finger sandwiches and homemade cookies.
I had never organized a high tea before, and so I was a little nervous. High tea requires an attention to detail that I don’t have and I wanted everything to be perfect.
Truth be told, even though I live in the Commonwealth where tea reigns supreme, I don’t fancy myself as a regular tea partier. Thankfully most of the service items you need to hold a high tea I inherited from various relatives, so I didn’t have to go shopping.
One thing I dug out for the occasion was my Grandmother’s celery green damask tablecloth. The tablecloth had been poorly folded and left in a lump at the bottom of a drawer and so I had to iron it.
Every time I iron, I think of my Grandmother. She pressed EVERYTHING, from napkins and tablecloths to my Grandfather’s underwear. No joke! She liked things to be just so.
My Grandmother was never employed but if she had been I think she would’ve made a great employee. As a Farmer’s Wife, she ran an effective business. There were people to feed, there were chores to do while the sun was shining, and socks to darn when it wasn’t. She knew how to be creative and make do when substitutions were required. She understood the seasons, what had to be done when, when to start, when to be done by. She never sweat the small stuff even though she always did the small stuff perfectly, and without ever making a mess. All you have to do is take one look at the stitch quality in her quilts and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
Think about the skills you’d need to be a Farmer’s Wife:
- Figure things out without a lot of direction
- Project management
- Manage a budget
- Finish on time
- Ability to stick to a routine, ability to change the routine with the seasons
- Exacting detail
- Make the most of a day
- Self motivation
- Operate equipment
- Do dirty jobs on the farm (you know, cleaning the stalls, beheading the chicken)
Yet, if you received her resume, would you consider her for a job? Any job? I bet you wouldn’t.
The folks at my tea party were largely unemployed and talked about the challenges of the job market. I hold all of them in high regard and so therefore I am having trouble accepting their plight. It occurred to me however that we in HR may be partially at fault. We either do or teach others to look at candidates with such specificity and shortlist on credentials, thereby we miss out on big picture skills.
- Despite experience, anyone you hire will have to be trained on how your Company does it.
- Past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Do we look for the right evidence of behaviour?
- Bad habits are difficult to change.
- The workplace needs thinkers, and those who can be creative during difficult times.
The next time you recruit, I challenge you to put credentials and direct experience aside and see what candidates come through when you turn off those lenses. Did you find what you were looking for? I’d love to hear some dialogue on this subject.