Word Of the Week #560: Opinions

April 29, 2015 by  

Opinions: judgments or beliefs not founded on certainty or proof.

Have you ever wondered how people’s opinions are formed? How can we make a judgment not founded on proof? Did you know that people make assessments in 10 seconds based on a first impression?

Washington Post writer Jena McGregor’s article, “GOOGLE HR MAN AND AUTHOR BOCK HAS IT ALL WORKED OUT” inspired this week’s WOW. She writes, “Laszlo Bock runs ‘people operations’ at Google, an apt title for a human resources department that seems far more like a data-driven lab than a mere home for HR administrivia. Only one-third of the people he hires for the department have a traditional HR background. The rest are strategy consultants or hold advanced degrees in subjects such as organizational psychology and physics.

Since joining Mountain View-based Google in 2006, Bock and his team have examined questions such as: a workWhat’s the ideal number of interviewers to assess job candidates? And, how does the size of the plates in Google’s famous cafeterias affect employees’ eating habits? His upcoming book Work Rules,” shares many of those findings.

When asked what led him to write the book, Bock says, “I’ve always been a little frustrated and disappointed not only in myself as a leader, but also in how leadership and management work. We spend more time working than we do with our loved ones, than with our kids, than sleeping. With a little science and comparing notes with other organizations and testing at Google, we’ve been able to figure out ways to make work better. The hope is that through the book we can make work better everywhere.

When asked what’s the biggest mistake managers make when it comes to conducting interviews he says, “Relying on their own opinion. We all think we’re amazing at assessing character and candidates, but the research shows that we make an assessment in 10 seconds, based on a first impression. The rest of the time is spent trying to confirm that, even though we don’t know that’s what our brains are doing.

The best thing you can do to fix it is to have a bunch of people (we say four) interview every candidate. Make sure it’s not just the manager but people who are going to work for, and around, this person. Have every person assign a score, average that score, and make your decision based on that. Everybody has some level of error in their assessment. Some people are a little soft on candidates, some are a little hard on them, some are biased one way, some are biased another.

The second thing you should do is only hire people who are better than you in some way. Unless you walk away thinking, “That person is better than me at organizing things, or running a process, or solving a problem, or selling to customers,” you shouldn’t hire that person.

This week’s focus is on opinions. Are you open to hearing other people’s opinions? Have you ever had more than one person conduct interviews? Is the staff ever involved in hiring co-workers? What could be done to make your workplace better?

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