Management Skills: Managing the ‘Halo Effect’

managementIn an excellent book by Tim Hindle ‘Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus’ he talks about (amongst many other things) the ‘Halo Effect’. He says

The so called halo effect is the phenomenon whereby we assume because people are good at doing A they will be good at doing B, C and D …
I’ve known about the Halo Effect for some time (and I’m guessing you may have too) but reading Tim’s book reminded me of how problematic the phenomenon can be for managers
So how do you know you are ‘suffering’ from the halo effect? Here is a classic symptom:
You recruited a star, now you’ve got a damp squib
It’s so, so easy to fall foul of the halo effect in the recruitment interview. I’ve seen it happen literally dozens of times. Here’s a real example. The candidate tells you they are undertaking an internship whilst at the same time completing a MA and also competing at a professional level in Archery. Wow. You assume they must be;
a) great at time management
b) great at dealing with pressure and
c) a wonderful team player
In fact only one of these three assumptions is correct!*
It’s crucial during a recruitment interview that you are aware of and can manage the halo effect. The most effective way to do this is to ensure that you are able to encourage and challenge the candidate to provide evidence of demonstrating the skills and attributes you need. The easiest way to do this is to firstly define those skills and attributes as performance objectives and secondly to then interview the candidate against those performance objectives
(Read how to do this, and find out which *assumption is correct, in my blog ‘Using Performance Objectives in Recruitment Interviewing’)
When we learn how to manage the halo effect at the recruitment stage we are much, much less likely to recruit the candidate we see as a star only to find – in terms of their performance in the work place – they are a ‘damp squib’

Management Skills: Are you suffering from the Halo Effect?

Of course the halo effect doesn’t just trip us up during the recruitment process. We can all fall foul of assuming that because our employee can do A) if follows that they must be able to do B) (and sometimes that’s true – sometimes it’s not!). A very effective way to ensure you are not letting the halo effect mess up your people management is to ensure you are using a systemised, step by step approach to managing your employee’s performance. You can see a sample of an effective performance management system here


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