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  • Peter van Nieuwburg

Choosing for the best resume is usually the worst choice....

The perfect job profile, the right experience, highly successful in the previous position and 100% ambition to be successful for the position that needs to be filled. In short, a no-brainer and an external candidate you simply cannot say NO to. And the latter is exactly what you SHOULD be doing.


Saying no to that top candidate is very often the best choice. Huh? Nothing "huh"; just that perfect candidate in practice almost always turns out to perform much less than everyone, including our top performer themselves of course, expects.


Research by a group of Harvard professors in 2004 (yes you read it correctly: 2004) already explicitly showed that top-performers in a new work environment always perform less for a long time than before they changed employer. And worse, even entire organizations have been found to perform less immediately when a new top performer is brought in.


This very thorough research proves something we have all known for a long time, or at least could have known: individual performance is not as individual as it seems. To perform well, individual strengths are important, but you shouldn't overestimate that importance. The culture of the organization, the internal processes, the internal and external networks and of course the cooperation and trust between the team members, all aspects that in practice are many times more important than the individual strengths of that new colleague. In short, it is always the team that manages to achieve success. How stupid it is then to become so focused on (possible) individual strengths and previously achieved "individual" achievements. With too much focus on the individual, before you know it, a culture is created in which EGO's become more important than the collective.



So it's high time to really start looking at filling positions differently. First of all, take a good look at whether there are any internal candidates for the requested position or for the roles that need to be filled. An internal candidate could be the best choice, even if he or she lacks experience or seems to have only 50% of the strengths of that seemingly perfect external candidate. And just as important, if you consistently target potential internal candidates, you also send a very strong message that everyone within the organization is trusted and given room to develop and advance their careers. And if anything binds talents, it's the development opportunities. It's great if your talents stay; you don't have to find new top performers. That's just as efficient as it is!


Do you really lack an internal candidate? Then look for a candidate who fits the company culture and the team and see how you can best support the candidate to find his or her way in the organization as quickly as possible. Because only when the team is really adjusted to each other, everyone can really use his or her qualities to the fullest to contribute to the growth of the organization.


Do you agree with me (or not!)? Let's talk about it and together spar what you can do to make your teams sustainably stronger. Schedule your appointment here:

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