Is Past Performance a Good Predictor of Future Performance?

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In almost every investment brochure, you will see a disclaimer that says: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. However most investors (or so they call themselves) completely ignore this disclaimer.

Similarly in the world of hiring and recruiting, most hiring managers ignore the fact that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

Performance-based questions, competency-based interviews, behavioural-based questions – these are all focused on past accomplishments and past performance of an individual.

In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA) that we live in today, past performance is no guarantee of future results.


In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA) that we live in today, past performance is no guarantee of future results


 

Knowing a person’s past accomplishments is good, but it is no longer sufficient in our VUCA world today. Investments in Human Capital is very much the same as investing in stocks and shares in the investment world.

Vicki Swisher, Korn Ferry senior director of Intellectual Property Development and author of Becoming an Agile Leader, says “People who are learning agile more readily absorb new skills, behaviors, and insights — and then carry those forward to perform successfully, especially in unfamiliar situations. The agile learner enjoys and deals well with ambiguity and complexity and doesn’t accept the status quo. These are attributes needed in virtually every 21st century organization.”

In addition, a study of 800 executives around the world by Egon Zehnder revealed that “Seventy-eight percent of executives said past performance is no longer the best predictor of success in a new role and 87 percent noted that strong inter-personal traits are a key differentiator when identifying a truly exceptional leader.” Read Egon Zehnder’s press release here.

So what should you do when assessing and evaluating your next potential hire?

1. Focus on the person’s APTITUDE.

Aptitude refers to the ability and the capacity to unlearn and learn at the same time — to unlearn what we already know and learn what is needed to for us to be successful in a constantly changing business landscape.

When assessing a person’s Aptitude, you should look beyond the person’s ability to learn new skills or to attain new knowledge. This is because with the correct attitude, almost anyone is able to pick up a new skill or to gain new knowledge. However the true measure of a person’s Aptitude needs to include the person’s ability to be able to connect with others, establish trusting relationships, build trust with co-workers, and most of all, to be flexible and adaptable to the constantly changing environment.

Alvin Toffler, a futurist and the author of “Future Shock” said it very succinctly:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ~ Alvin Toffler


2. Go beyond their past accomplishments, past performance and past behaviour.

It is not about past accomplishment. It is not about past performance. It is not about past behaviour that will determine how you will perform in the future.

Think back to a time when your organisation hired a star performer from another organisation, only to find that the new star performer could not deliver after coming on-board.

This is no surprise as Professor Groysberg of Harvard University did an extensive study of star performers and found that most star performers fail to perform after joining the new organisation.

Extensive research by Professor Boris Groysberg of Harvard University showed that the best performers typically bring with them up to 30% of their capabilities when they move from one organisation to another, contrary to what most believe.

 

3. Ask “future-oriented” questions, rather than questions on past performance, accomplishments and competencies.

So how do you assess a person’s ability to learn and adapt for tomorrow’s demands?

Here’s your most important interview question of all time:

“Tell me a time when you had to completely unlearn what you already knew and learn something completely new.”

The intent of this question is to understand from your potential hire his or her ability to be able to unlearn what is no longer needed and to learn what is needed to get the job done.

What is most important when assessing and evaluating a potential candidate is that person’s ability to adapt to fast changing conditions, complex environments and ambiguous situations.

Focus on the person’s adaptability, flexibility and capacity.

 


What is most important when assessing and evaluating a potential candidate is that person’s ability to adapt to fast changing conditions, complex environments and ambiguous situations


 

So as you prepare yourself to meet with your next candidate, focus on asking “future-oriented” questions, and not dwell too much on “past” performance.

Assess and evaluate your candidate on how well he or she would be able to adapt to the new environment. Assess and evaluate your candidate on how well he or she is able to unlearn the past and learn what is required for him or her to be successful in his or her new role and the ever-changing environment.

 


About the Author


STEVEN LOCK is a Speaker, Trainer, Author and a Leadership Coach. Steven brings with him two decades of corporate experience.

Steven is passionate about helping organisations transform their teams into high performing teams. He does that by first helping organisations identify and hire the right people, and then training their leaders and managers on how to manage and lead their people to achieve peak performance consistently.

He is the developer of The CAAP® High Performance Model. This model focuses on Culture (cultural fit), Attitude, Aptitude and Personality dimensions of their employees and job candidates. It is a highly practical, effective and proven approach. Steven believes that for organizations to be truly successful and perform at their highest levels, they need to shift their mind-sets to having the RIGHT people on-board – and not necessarily the best or the brightest.

Steven is the Author of two books:

• “Hiring for Performance: The CAAP® Model to Hiring and Building High-Performance Teams.”
• “The Right Talent: The Agility-Focused Interviewing Approach™ to Hiring the Right Candidate Every Time.”

He is also the developer of The Leadership STYLE Report™ that is based on Dr. Daniel Goleman’s research on leadership styles.

Steven has been featured on MediaCorp’s live radio show The Breakfast Club on 938FM, and has contributed numerous articles to Singapore Business Review, ST Recruit, SHRI Human Capital and other publications. His comments on Team Collaboration was quoted in the Spring 2014 Edition of the Harvard Business Review OnPoint Magazine.

Steven holds a Master of Business (Information Technology) from Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. He is a certified DISC & MBTI® (Step I & II) practitioner.

Recently Steven was invited as a guest speaker to share about his CAAP(R) High Performance Model with over 600 delegates at the Vietnam HR Summit 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.


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September 15, 2015

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