Bad Hiring Decisions: Avoid This Big Mistake

May 15th, 2014

What would you do if your son or daughter flunked 8 out of 10 math tests? Get mad? Take away their privileges? Hire a tutor? Meet with the teacher?

Of course, you might also consider: Maybe your child just isn’t wired to do math.

Business leaders would do well to consider that cautionary tale when they hire or promote someone into management. Because research just released by the Gallup organization finds that American companies get it wrong 82 percent of the time when they put someone in a management role. 

That’s not simply shocking, it’s tragic, because the effects of those mis-hires is devastating. The number one reason people quit their job is that they can’t stand their boss. And countless people who don’t quit resign themselves to putting up with their supervisor, leading to, at best, a ho-hum attitude about their work, and at worst, outright defiance and sabotage. 

That’s why another Gallup poll, which has been conducted annually since 2000, found in 2013 that only 30 percent of employees feel “engaged” with their work. Fifty-two percent are “not engaged,” meaning they are sleepwalking through the day. And the remaining 13 percent are “actively disengaged,” meaning they are not simply checked out at work, they are actively working to undermine the work itself. Worldwide, Gallup finds the number of “engaged” workers at only 13 percent.

If you care about the economy we work in, if you care about the country of which we are citizens, and if you care about the global economy, which is testing out the validity and viability of democratic-capitalism, you should be very concerned about those numbers.

More personally, if you care about your own job, you should be very concerned about those numbers. And if you care about God’s interest in everyday work, you should be especially concerned about those numbers.

I can’t possibly imagine that God wants 82 percent of people placed in management to fail.

So what’s going on here? Quite simply, companies place too many people in management who are not gifted to the task.

As Gallup puts it: “[Our] research reveals that about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. . .

“Sure, every manager can learn to engage a team somewhat. But without the raw natural talent to individualize, focus on each person’s needs and strengths, boldly review his or her team members, rally people around a cause, and execute efficient processes, the day-to-day experience will burn out both the manager and his or her team.”

It all turns on the question of one’s giftedness—the unique way in which God has designed a person to do a particular function. Position a person in the sweet spot of their giftedness and you get spectacular results. Put them in a setting where they are not gifted the task, and. . .watch out!

As Gallup’s research shows, there’s a world of difference between the title of “manager” and the gift for managing people.

The takeaways for you and me? (1) We need to find out what our own giftedness is; (2) we need to seek the path that best utilizes what God has designed us to do, and stay away from that which we are not designed to do; and (3) we need to pay careful attention to the giftedness of people when we place them in a role or assignment.

After all, God didn’t give us our gifts to mess up people’s work and lives, or the enterprise for which we work. He gave them to us to make the world fruitful, add value by which we meet our needs, and bring Him glory by mirroring what He Himself does in an infinite and perfect way.


Editors note: For more information about assessing and managing giftedness go to The Giftedness Center

Bill Hendricks is president of The Giftedness Center, a Dallas-based consulting firm specializing in organizational effectiveness and individual career guidance. He is the author or coauthor of twenty-two books, including The Person Called You: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life (June 2013). His thoughts can be found at his blog, He holds degrees from Harvard University, Boston University, and Dallas Theological Seminary.