The Search for Green Flags - Looking at positives in evaluations
Evaluation of a professional, or of performance in general, is tricky business. How can you truly tell if someone is all that they say they are, or if they are just putting on a front as to their true capabilities? How can you tell a good candidate for a job from a bad one? A future leader from an individual contributor?
By working in a leadership capacity in varied sized organizations, I have had to interview, hire, and evaluate the performance of many, many professionals. All of this as a hiring manager. I cannot even start to comprehend the work recruiters have to do in order to get the right candidates through the door (#recruiterlove).
One way that people evaluate professionals is by the use of flags. Big red ones. The ones that if seen make managers and recruiters run for the hills. The ones that automated HR systems route to the sorry, not sorry, response queue.
Red flags can come in many forms and shapes. A candidate can have a large job gap in her work history (she is inconsistent and unreliable). There could be a typo on his performance review (he obviously does not care enough). These are examples of what people may consider red flags when evaluating someone. They are deemed to be clues as to a person’s true abilities and performance. Although they are biased and ill informed, many of us (myself included) will disqualify a potential high performer due to these perceived flags.
Now, what about the green flags. How much do we consider those when evaluating performance? How much stock do we put on positive attributes that will allow us to project successful performance?
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you have a candidate that has had an unorthodox career with multiple freelance experiences, coupled with some short stints at reputable organizations that have never lasted more than a year. However, this person also has an amazing portfolio, is certified in project management and is the promoter of a successful music festival. What do you choose to see? The red flags or the green ones? Would you rather take a safe choice and know what you are going to get, or bet on the potential for something greater?
More and more people are choosing to not take a chance on someone because they don’t fit the right mold. They might be amazing, but there is a chance that things might not go as planned. What would you do?
Just look at Tom Brady. The now greatest QB of all time was passed by every NFL team for five rounds before being drafted by the New England Patriots in the 6th round of the NFL Draft. Here is why: Even though he was a great quarterback in college he shared the starting QB position with more athletic Drew Henson. Even though his teammates at Michigan said he was the smartest person in the room, he was still a tall gangly kid in the weight room. The teams that passed on him chose to focus on the red flags and not the green ones.
One way to think about it is that hiring someone or promoting someone is only the first step into ensuring that this person is successful. It is not the final step that ensures success. If you go into it thinking that you will have more work to do to bring out the best in that person, than you just might get more than what you bargained for. And that is a good thing.
I have a challenge for you. Next time that you are looking to evaluate someone, whether it is a job candidate, a direct report, a vendor, or even a date you met on match.com, I want you to focus exclusively on the green flags. To hell with the red ones. Take a chance on the positive flags someone is showing you to see if they can surprise you by being more than their red flags. Now that you have gone all in, look in the mirror and identify what YOU can do to help realize this prophecy. Don’t wait for the flags to prove you wrong or right. Take action to ensure that the potential you saw is realized.
Andre Mello is a Business Coach and loves a good story of realized potential. He has been in Marketing and Leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com.