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Kelly Odell

- A blog for leaders
13 Apr 2006

Management at its worst!

Following is an email that was sent to me some time ago by someone who attended one of my speaking engagements.

From: ………
Sent: ……….
To: kelly@thinktank.se
Copy: ………
Subject: What should I do?

Dear Kelly,

Thank you for a great speech at the ……… conference. I went away inspired and stayed that way for several days but then reality caught up with me. I wanted to ask you what you thought about the following situation at my office.

I was selected together with several other people in our company to be evaluated for a place in our “High potential” group. We were sent through rigorous testing that lasted several days and included IQ tests, 360 degree evaluations, personality tests, group work and much more. To make a long story short, I received top scores on everything and was told by the consultants doing the testing that I would be at the top of their recommendation list. Shortly thereafter I overheard one of my colleagues openly complaining about the terrible evaluation she had gotten from the consultants. Imagine my surprise when the following day it was announced that she was the only one from our department selected for the Hypo group!

I immediately called the consultant that had evaluated me and asked what had happened. I told the consultant what I had overheard and wondered why I hadn’t been recommended. The consultant assured me that I had been their strongest recommendation and also confided that my colleague had not been recommended by them.

What do you think I should do?

Yours truly,

Unfortunately, the situation described in this email is not unusual! Companies spend lots of time and money using sophisticated analysis tools and then ignore the results if they don’t like them. Logically, you might think that managers who are going to follow their intuitions at all cost could save the money they spend on the analysis. The problem with the story in this email is that the individuals involved get such mixed messages become de-motivated or simply leave the company.

Typically, the people who are selected for these types of deep evaluations are already identified as top performers. If management initiates such an evaluation process they must also commit to following the final recommendations. If they don’t, as in the example above, people who are clearly some of your very best will become disillusioned and will probably end up leaving the company. In fact my advice to this individual was to discuss it with their boss and if they weren’t satisfied with the answer they should send the evaluation document they had been given to some recruiting firms along with their C/V. I can only imagine all the politics that must have gone on behind the scenes in this company but the end result will be a company with the wrong people in leadership positions and all the good people working for their competitors!

3 Responses

  1. When this happens, you should immediately look for another job. In my experience, when a company decides you are not a top performer regardless of what the reviews say, you’ve encountered a leadership inversion – the talent is now below the leadership layer, and they will hold on to their position while watching their potential replacements leave for other jobs.

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