Hire for learnability and integrity

Many organizations hire for cultural fit. Many organizations hire for the knowledge the prospective hire brings. Many organizations hire because they simply need to backfill a position.

Ever heard of a football club which hires only the A-Level footballers by paying them a huge amount of money, but still is not able to succeed? Have you ever watched the movie “Moneyball”, which apart from promoting data-based analysis, also promotes learnability or the ability and openness to learn?

In short, it is important that organizations hire for learnability and integrity.

Only people who possess learnability can help organizations grow by growing themselves. Learnability helps people to learn more about their colleagues thus helps them work better as a team.

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Learnability helps people reinvent themselves and reinventing themselves helps them become more efficient. Increased efficiency means organizations become simpler over a period of time. And that is what organizations would ideally want.

Remember the point I mentioned about T shaped skills. For the people to develop deeper and wider skills, the only key, apart from the right attitude, is to have the hunger for learning. Without having learnability, people will become redundant. In fact, McKinsey reports that nearly 30% of the jobs could be automated by 2030. And it is an easy guess on what will happen to these 30% of the workforce when their jobs get automated.

Even World Economic Forum (WEF) understands the need for learnability. They tell that employability of an individual is less about what they know and more about their capacity to learn. And organizations are rising to the needs of improving learning. JPMorgan Chase, as WEF points out, is offering training for its new hires in business-critical skills.[i]

Learnability helps organizations future proof themselves against potential shocks and helps them prepare for the opportunities of the future.

How do you look for learnability? As a start, organizations will have to look beyond the candidates’ resumes. The recruiters will have to be told to identify people who have a proven track record of showing the willingness to learn, even if their marks and experience may not be worthy of a potential ivy-league competitor. Also, build a culture of learnability in the organization. Only an organization which shows that it can learn will be able to accept people who learn. Organizations should go out of their way to reward people who learn.

And do not forget about integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Hire for integrity. Yes, it is tough to spot integrity, so look out for non-integrity.  Learnability is a virtuous circle. More learnability drives more curiosity along with greater efficiency which will further promote learnability. So, go ahead and hire those learners and people with integrity and not those A-Listers who may probably not gel together.


[i] This skill could save your job – and your company; World Economic Forum; August 31, 2016; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/this-little-known-skill-will-save-your-job-and-your-company/

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