Gut feeling or systems?

What should drive human capital decisions? Is it policies, metrics and HR Big Data? Or can it be intuition and gut feeling? Or is there room for both?

Gut feeling?After eight years in a medium-sized family owned business, Simon moved to a global FMCG company. Not only was he attracted by the company car offer, but mainly by the career growth opportunities at this global big player. Now five years in the company, he applied for the role of European Head Customer Service; a role he has been aiming for since a while.

Yesterday he was informed that he will not get the role. So what happened? It could be stated that Simon did everything –additional to his track record of outstanding performance- to prepare for this opportunity. With Daniel, his current boss, and Elina, his potential future boss, it was agreed for Simon over the last 6 months to work every Friday in his future department. Elina had massively appreciated the work he has done –largely over the weekends- on an important project; she had the feeling he would be a perfect candidate with a smashing drive to bring the needed change. Even the VP European Operations was supportive to him moving into the job. ‘My gut feeling is telling me it’s the right move’, he said.

But he doesn’t get the job.

With Elina digging deeper into the rationale; she found the answer. And the answer is policies and Peoplesoft. Historical figures in the headquarters’ big HR data-pool seem to indicate that people with Simon’s bachelor degree didn’t perform well in senior roles. Two other applicants had performed better in the numerical skills assessment; although he also scored well. Jacqueline, one of those two other candidates was since 2 years on the high potential list but never managed to secure a promotion. And the policy states that high potentials should be promoted within 3 years after nomination. On top of that, Jacqueline is a French citizen and the latest diversity graphs indicate there haven’t been enough promotions out of the French subsidiaries.

And therefore, Simon -btw real story fake names- doesn’t get the job.

Apart from the debate that in resourcing decisions recruiting line-managers should have a strong voice –if not final decision and accountability!-, it raises the question on what leads. Is it data-analysis? Is it targets set in policies and procedures? Is it Elina’s confidence and trust? Can it be gut feeling?

Love to hear your views. Here is the one from Einstein:

Picture credits: and
This entry was posted in Big Data, engagement, HR analytics, leadership, talent acquisition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Gut feeling or systems?

  1. Barry says:

    Looks like it’s time for Simon to look for his promotion elsewhere.

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