There’s a growing expectation amongst Kenyan graduates that having a university degree entitles them to a job of their choosing. When they get a chance to show who they are at an interview, they behave as if they know better than the vastly more experienced interview panel. It doesn’t work like that. And we’re now fighting back.
As Kenyan employers we’re scampering for better ways to save our time. We’ve got too much else going on to focus on training a graduate who will disappear at the slightest sense of discomfort. We’re no longer interested in verifying the certificates to check if they are genuine. We’re beginning to recruit differently. We’re using methods of assessment that don’t have ‘leakage’, that cannot be corrupted and are not therefore subject to human judgement.
Businesses used to be heavily dependent on their human capital’s knowledge to grow further and faster and make societal impact. With ease of access to the internet, people with knowledge are redundant. People who can teach themselves how to use knowledge to solve problems are in demand.
So that’s what we’re assessing as employers: the ability to self-learn, solve problems and be resourceful. Add to that attitude and hunger to succeed and grow. How are we doing this?
One of the methods I use more frequently in recent days is psychometric assessment. It’s almost impossible to cheat the psychometric test and it’s an all-encompassing way to know personality traits, motivating factors and the desire for intellectual growth. It also predicts behavior under stress, and behavior in the future. However I use other methods to understand intellectual ability, teamwork, leadership, empathy and other soft skills – group case studies.
Group case studies allow us to see an individual and a team functioning in high-pressure work situations, designed to highlight specific strengths and weaknesses. I once designed a fairly convoluted case where the group had to present a value chain proposal for glow-in-the-dark alphabet shaped noodles. In six hours I wanted to see what their mental stamina was, who would assume leadership of the group and how, who focused on financials or marketing or product design, who was able to define assumptions against the variables and who was able to handle conflict or be the one to resolve conflict. The group was a mix of engineers, accountants, marketers and sales candidates. The panel was made up of the same specializations and selection was on a voting system. The decision-making was subjective and qualitative because the judging was left to humans. Not entirely a bad thing because we need to ‘feel’ the chemistry and taste the culture and its not easy to act in a high pressure environment. But what if there was a way to apply the science of business success, measured ultimately as always by shareholder value, to assess the best talent that’s available?
The Global Management Challenge is a simulated business game that puts real world scenarios in front of teams allowing them to compete against other humans with the aim of finishing with the highest investment performance. The successful teams in my observation perform consistently regardless of the scenario they are faced with. They have methodical formula and synergy in how they operate with shared expertise and single decision-making. These are the people most likely to succeed in the modern world, tried and tested to be resilient and trained to be self-reflective of the consequences of their actions. The winners will have been through 3 scenarios, each time correcting their mistakes taking into account all the other variables with different weighting. It takes a certain ability to get up again after a mistake, it takes hunger to find out why a mistake was made and it takes humility to take up responsibility. All traits that employers need in their talent pools for growth and sustainability.
This article was first published in the 2016 Global Management Challenge Kenya Newsletter. The author was listed by The Business Daily as one of Kenya’s Top 40 under 40 men in 2015. He is the founder and a director of Greener Pastures Ltd., and the technical project manager of the Kenyan edition of the Global Management Challenge.