Interview with Dr. John Marshall #2

What follows is the transcribed conversation between Smart Work Network and Dr. John Marshall. Comments in red are those that we believe are worth repeating.

We begin where we ended the previous session.

Interviewer: That’s really interesting. When you look at these characteristics then are these learned? You mentioned inherent talent, also mentioned effort. Are you born with these characteristics?

John Marshall: Some you are. There are two types of talent potential. There’s a type of talent that’s inherent that we are born with that we can’t change. It sets our natural ability to potential. There are a whole series of things that we can acquire talent. You can learn for example product knowledge and there are competencies you can learn through experience. There is also a fundamental level of inherent talent that no matter how much effort you put out you just don’t have it. That’s why it’s important when people are younger to find out where their natural talents are and then if they work hard and develop the competencies and the skills, the acquired side of it, that’s where they can be most successful. It’s very frustrating I’m sure you’ve seen people who work very hard and just don’t have it. There’s other that have and just don’t work very hard. Both of those are problematic to coaches in organizations. What we have found with organizations, is their biggest waste of resources is training and coaching people who don’t have the potential to perform. You’re wasting your resources, both money and time, trying to get people to do things they just don’t have the potential to do it. If you can identify those people early in terms of the inherent side, the potential side help acquire the skills and abilities that can be acquired and then of course get them to work hard and you have a top performer. What’s interesting is what we find is that, and we used to do this when we were working with the scouts on the pro-teams, is that if they were rating someone very high on talent they were often rating them very average on effort. What is happening, and it happens in our society as well, if someone is very talented they end up being successful because of their talent and they actually end up focusing only on the talent and they actually get lazy sometimes. You’ve probably seen that with contest for example within selling. There will be a contest and someone will perform extremely well and you wonder where did that come from? Then trying to motivate them becomes problematic because if you put time into them you end up reinforcing their non-effort. What we find is people that often are highly talented learn they don’t have to work hard and they succeed on their talent. There’s another group that is not quite as talented and learn they have to work hard to be successful which is interesting. The ones that get ahead in life are the ones that learned how to work hard.

Interviewer: That’s really fascinating. I’ve seen that, clearly not at a professional level in athletics, but in little leagues, basketball, football and soccer. Everybody’s seen those. The kids who are just natural and other kids who don’t seem to have the natural gift but they just work like crazy.

John Marshall: Who would you rather coach?

Interviewer: I’d like to have a mix. You like to have the gifted kids but I rather have the kids that put in the effort.

John Marshall: What I found as a coach is you can’t win without the talent. You’ve got to have an admission ticket to play the game, which is the talent. Then once you get the talent you get then those ones that work hard become your top performers and are the ones that are fun to coach. So your true superstars are the ones who work hard and have the talent, the good players are either the ones that have the talent and don’t work hard or don’t have the talent, and then there’s the trap that you shouldn’t have on the team because they don’t have the talent and they don’t work hard. The most frustrating ones are the ones that have the talent and don’t work hard because the ones that work hard, when you apply coaching to them, they get better.

Interviewer: How do you figure out who’s who?

John Marshall: Once you get inside somebody and see how they’re built internally and what their natural characteristics are. There are two types of characteristics, psychological characteristics and of course there are physiological characteristics. So that’s why we developed the tools. We developed these proprietary tools that help identify very early whether somebody has the potential to perform in that specific work environment whether that be a specific job and/or with a specific company. Each company tends to have its own culture as well. You’ve probably seen this in pro sports, a player that plays very well with one team and gets traded to another and they don’t perform very well because they don’t fit the culture of the second team or vice versa. You’ve probably seen players that were terrible with one team and they get traded and all of a sudden they are above average players and you think “why were they so average here” and it’s just a fit to the culture and the coaching style. So, identifying top performers has to take into consideration not only the context of the job or what they have to do but also the culture or the team or the organization or the coach their playing with or who they’re being managed by. Tools are a good way of doing it. We recommend also looking at their Effort Profile because what is interesting about human nature is people who work hard work hard in all areas of their life, and are people that make commitments and keep commitments. It doesn’t matter if it’s in their personal life or their schooling or whatever hobbies they have or their job: that same effort and commitment pattern holds from one area of their life to another. So what we recommend to organizations and recruiters and to managers hiring is to look at the Effort Profile rather than the Success Profile because if you look at people who worked hard in the past, it’s a habit and people who have that habit will work hard for you. That’s what you really need and again, the job of most organizations is to train the skills side of it and the effort side has to come from the individual.

Note to Readers: In the next posting, Dr. Marshall explains the interconnectedness between an “Effort Profile” and a “Success Profile” and how companies can look for and differentiate the two in their recruiting and selection processes.

Smart Tweets

Get Smarter, 140 characters at a time.