March 5, 2015

Experience and Letters

I was recently chatting with a colleague who is a highly experienced human resources director about education, training, and degrees. He was lamenting that his company has kept raising the bar for new applicants. Twenty years ago, experience was more important than degrees. Today, if you don’t have an MBA, you can’t apply for most of the openings in his organization.

This is not to say an MBA isn’t impressive – it is – but it’s just one metric. If you have a person who has shown their ability and discipline to finish six years of university, you should acknowledge that. But my friend’s point was that they were discarding those who didn't have the letters behind their names even though clearly they had the ability and experience to be considered.

One Size Never Fits All

In my work as a leadership consultant and business coach, I've worked with a man who has built three multimillion dollar companies on a high school diploma and an extremely bright MBA graduate who struggled with the human aspects of his business. There are always exceptions but the question I had for my HR friend, can we assume the education someone has attained is a fail safe way to determine business acumen?

It’s been said that education is a lifelong pursuit but keep in mind when you are looking at new people to join your team, there are various metrics to consider. Formal education is important but experience shouldn't be ruled out. And once they do join your team, what types of continuing education and training do you offer to help them continue to grow?

That Will Do

The chat with my HR colleague ended on an interesting note when he reminded me his MBA was earned in mathematics which has very little to do with his work today. His HR training was necessary to get the gig but without an MBA, he would have never even been considered.

On the Forbes 400 Billionaire list; 35 have their law degree, 29 have a masters in science, 21 have their PhD, and 63 (or 15%) of the richest humans on the planet only have a high school diploma.

Education is critical but if we only measure it from the perspective of formal settings, are we closing our minds to possibilities?

Something to think about if you only look at letters.
Kneale Mann | People + Priority = Profit
© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
leadership development business culture talent development human capital