管理特異人才

Managing Idiosyncratic Talent
羅伯.奧斯丁 Robert D. Austin
瀏覽人數:2095


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擁有特定認知情況的人,可能會在求職面試時表現不佳,但他們可能剛好具備你團隊的空缺職位所需的才能。

我在思考人才管理議題時,想到的一個心得就是,簡單說,重要的是我們不要埋沒了人才,不要不了解我們組織裡的傑出人才。我在多年前有段經驗,當時我在福特汽車公司工作,遇到許多很有才華的人,但他們的才能並不是很全面發展。

遺憾的是,我們雇用那些人時碰到麻煩,因為他們往往在求職面試時表現不佳。但他們可能是傑出的技術人員,在那種情況下,我們埋沒了那些人才,沒有雇用他們,沒有讓他們加入我們公司任職久一點。

這件事的意義,我要到多年以後才明白。過了好些年,我在撰寫一份哈佛商學院個案,內容是關於丹麥一家叫做Specialisterne的公司,丹麥語的意思是「專家」。這家公司有趣之處在於,它的業務主要是軟體測試。但特別有趣的是,這家公司75%的員工都有某種形式的自閉症。他們被診斷出有自閉症,大多數在這家公司工作的人,之前都被視為無法就業。

「專家公司」做的事,是從事軟體測試,這項工作會把大多數人逼瘋,因為重複性很高,細節非常多,大多數人無法維持足夠的專注在這上面。但事實證明,這工作完全適合自閉症人士的能力。因此我們雇用了一群過去無法就業的人,讓他們成為全世界最優秀的軟體測試人員,這真是很聰明的做法。

我們做的事,我想可以用一個比喻來貼切描述,那是專家公司創辦人托基爾.左尼提出的隱喻,很有意思。他拿蒲公英做比喻。大家都知道蒲公英。它是生長在你家草坪上的黃花,你無法完全拔除,它們是雜草。但托基爾指出,蒲公英其實是很有價值的植物。它有醫藥效果。目前有一些研究顯示,蒲公英含有的化學物質,可能有助於我們對抗癌症。

你可以用它來泡咖啡。你可以用它來釀酒。從許多方面來看,蒲公英都是高價值的植物,但它出現在你的草坪時,就變成雜草。當然,這個隱喻指的是他有自閉症的員工。蒲公英成為雜草,並不是因為它的基本特質,而是因為我們安排它待的環境,或是發現它生長的環境。與他的自閉症員工類似的是,他們無法就業的原因,也不是他們的基本特質,而是我們試圖迫使他們加入的地方,我們試圖讓他們符合我們組織中的這些空缺職位。

所以我認為,有一項通用原則,在我們展望未來要如何管理人才時可採用。尤其是在目前的科技時代,有太多聰明傑出的人才,就像我多年前任職福特公司時發現的那樣,他們的特質怪異,同時又很聰明。他們的才能並非全面發展,所以我們必須為這些人找到空間。我們必須善於運用他們的才能。同時請牢記蒲公英的隱喻。

(蘇偉信譯)


People with certain cognitive conditions may not do well in job interviews—but they may have exactly the talents you need for an open position in your team.

So, one lesson that I think about when I think about the issue of managing talent is, to put it simply, it’s important that we don’t leave talent on the table, that we don’t fail to realize serious talent in our midst. I had an experience many years ago when I worked for Ford Motor Company where I had very talented people who were not, kind of, full, complete, well-rounded talents,

and unfortunately, we had trouble hiring those people, because they often didn’t do well in job interviews. But they could be brilliant technical staff, and in that instance, we left talent on the table by not hiring them, by not making them a part of our company for a longer time.

This message came home to me many years later. Fast forward. I was working on a Harvard Business School case about a company in Denmark called Specialisterne. That means “the specialists” in Danish. And what’s interesting about this company—which, its business is mostly software testing. What’s interesting in particular about this company though is that 75% of their staff have some form of autism. That they’ve been diagnosed with autism, and most of the people who work for this company were previously considered unemployable.

And what Specialisterne was able to do is take a task, software testing, that would make most of us crazy because it’s very repetitive, it’s very detailed, and most of us can’t devote sufficient attention to it. But this turns out to be perfectly suited to the abilities of people with autism. And so we take a group of people who were unemployable and make them the best software testers in the world, and there’s something quite brilliant in that.

And what we did is, I think it’s aptly described in a metaphor that the founder of the Specialisterne—his name is Thorkil Sonne—he came up with this metaphor, and it’s very interesting. He uses the metaphor of a dandelion. Now, everybody knows the dandelion. It’s that yellow flower that gets into your lawn, and you can’t extract it. It’s a weed. But what Thorkil points out is that the dandelion is actually a very valuable plant. It has medicinal qualities. There’s some research now that suggests that it contains chemicals that may help us fight cancer.

You can make coffee out of it. You can make wine out of it. In many, many ways, it’s a valuable plant, but when it’s in your lawn, it’s a weed. And of course the metaphor is to his staff with autism. That what makes a dandelion a weed is not its essential characteristics, but the context we place it in or we find it in. Similarly with his staff with autism, what makes them unemployable is not their essential characteristics, it’s the places we’re trying to force them into, these slots in our organizations that we’re trying to get them to conform to.

And so I think there’s a general principle here for us all as we look forward to managing. Especially in the technology age where there are so many brilliant people, as I found in my job at Ford many years ago, who are idiosyncratic at the same time as being brilliant. Their talents are not well rounded, so we have to find space for those people. We have to be good at harvesting their talents. Keeping in mind the metaphor of the dandelion.



羅伯.奧斯丁 Robert D. Austin

加拿大新紐伯倫瑞克大學商學院院長。與人合著有《資訊科技領導人歷險記》(The Adventures of an IT Leader, HBRP 2016)。


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