Here is the question, ” Do you hire and manage for skills only or is natural aptitude a part of the equation”.  You are not your job unless you are, and if you are then you are in the minority..and probably happy. For most people their job does not define who they are, it is simply what they were told or decided was the best way for them to earn the living they wanted. Interview ten people and nine of them will tell that what they do today was not what they dreamed about when they were a child.  Remember career day in high school? when they set up the various booths showcasing various careers and what the financial benefits could be. As students, we were encouraged to go toward the booths that offered careers with the highest possible pay and prestige.  The same discussion happened when you were choosing your college major, what do I want to do that is going to pay me the most.

If you look at the stats of students coming out of college they are telling: Only 27% of college graduates are working in a field that is directly or closely related to their field of study. in 2010, only 62% of college graduates were working in jobs that require a college degree. There can be outside pressures affecting this as well including the current state of the job market. The interesting part is the older college graduates get the percentage of them working in their field of study continues to diminish.

It is an interesting social standard and paradigm that has been around since the industrial revolution, go to school, get a good education and a degree, earn the most that you can and retire having worked for the same company all that time. (those days are over). We have educated and trained for the job, instead of educating training to exploit our natural desires and take advantage of our natural aptitude in various areas. This came very clear to me several years back when I was on a church committee helping them sign up volunteers to help in various capacities around the church. These activities include Sunday greeters, people to work in the children’s ministry, in the kitchen, prayer time volunteers, ushers etc. We were going through a list of people and we were making judgments about their desire and ability to do it based on the career they had. We were very surprised to see that over 90% of them picked something totally outside of what seemed to be their natural abilities, which we thought was their career. We had accountants cooking, salespeople in the children ministry and software engineers as greeters and prayer leaders.

This was a very valuable lesson and truly enlightening. We found that just because someone had a particular job does not mean that they are naturally gifted at it or even wanted to do the job we thought they would be good at. These volunteers gravitated naturally to what they had an internal desire and drive to do. The best part, nobody had to remind them to be there on time and what to do, they just naturally did it.

Translate this to how we hire in the corporate world. If you were to poll employees and ask them are their natural skills and desires being utilized fully by the company, a large portion would answer no. We look at the resume for skills and then assess them for cultural fit and that is as far as it usually goes. Those items are important but what is more critical is their natural aptitude and desires outside of salary and career goals. Now there may not be a natural fit for their natural skills in the position they are interviewing for..BUT… if you were to explore and discover what these were and found ways to put these skills to use you would have a more productive and happier employee.

Ever wonder why the average employee changes jobs every 3-5 years? In large part, it is because they are chasing the money and not satisfied in their current job for a multitude of reasons. When you are in your twenties it seems that the dollars and cents are the most important. As you get into your forties that is slowly replaced with job satisfaction and level of contribution. Money only goes so far and the old cliche is absolutely true “money does not buy happiness”

If you have a team, are a hiring manager or senior executive in an organization, take the time to get to know your people beyond their skills and learn about them personally. Explore what their natural desires are and aptitude is and find creative ways to put those to use. You will be amazed at the level of productivity you will see from them. If you have remote team members this is even more critical, when is the last time you have visited your remote team members in person just to see how they are doing and to get to know them more. Employees are not machines, they are people and as a senior executive or hiring manager, it is incumbent on you to get to know them and help them be successful.