Anosognocia in Hiring

There’s your word for the day!

Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability. Medically, it can be the result of certain strokes or brain injuries, in which a person loses awareness that half of his or her body even exists.

In the day-to-day world, anosognosia is the condition of “unknown unknowns.” You may know that you don’t know how to hire new staff effectively–that’s NOT anosognosia, because you are aware of your lack of knowledge. It’s when you don’t know that a) there is something that can be identified as “skill in hiring” AND b) you don’t have it, that you get into trouble.

Small business owners who don’t know they don’t know how to hire believe the myths. Business owners think, “I’m a good judge of character,” and that’s all that matters. One, few people outside trained law enforcement interrogators are actually good judges of character, and two, good character is only a tiny part of being a good employee.

Consider the following statement, written by a professional copywriter, about other writers’ copy:

A lack of passion shows through in sales copy, blog posts, and other marketing content. Maybe it’s just in the nuances – but I can tell when a marketer is just in it for the money, and doesn’t have at least a moderate interest in the subject matter.

Really? Are you sure you can tell when someone is faking it? Not if they’re really good… This applies to marketing as well as to candidates who have all the right answers.

What does this mean to you? If you’re reading this post, you could have, at worst, only a true “not knowing you don’t know.” You’re here because you want to know more. So you observe the results you get when you follow your process, and then you tweak the process and repeat.

Study a Master

One way to get good at hiring is to study someone who’s good at it.  This is actually much easier to write than to do, because you get into the “unknown unknown” territory pretty quickly.  When few people are good at hiring, and a lot of them don’t even know they’re not good at it, how do you find someone good to study?

We know that the best hiring managers and the people who write the books about hiring say that hiring is hard work. Therefore,

  • Your first “tell” of a not-good hiring manager / business owner is that he or she doesn’t admit that it’s hard.  SBOs who think it’s easy, or who have an attitude toward replacing employees and finding people that is markedly different from yours, probably should be avoided.
  • An ideal mentor is someone in a business  just a little bigger than yours, who is hiring roughly the same mix of exempt and non-exempt (hourly and salaried) staff as you expect to need.
  • Your hiring mentor or buddy should understand the concept of “working on the business.”  People who get this phrase know that business success is about systems and processes.  Your mentor may not have an effective hiring process in place, but if she knows she needs both “to hire” and “to build a hiring system,” the two of you will be able to grow together.

Have you ever found yourself aware of something you just that second realized you didn’t know you didn’t know?  Share it in the comments–thanks!