Connecting the Dots Blog

Selection Decision-Making Errors


A client once asked me, “What is selection decision-making really about?” I replied, “Discrimination.” He said, “That’s a rather harsh term, isn’t it?”

When it comes to colors or cars, taste or flavors, the term is not so harsh. However, discriminating or distinguishing between two people is often seen as judgmental and in some cases illegal.

In fact, with selection decision-making there are only two cases where discrimination does not happen -- where everyone is selected or no one is.  Obviously, in the real world, neither is a practical solution.


Two Errors We Make in Selection

In any kind of decision (what person to marry, what house to buy, what university to attend) there are only two errors we can make -- missing the “right” one and choosing the “wrong” one.

These are commonly referred to as Type I or Type II errors. A Type I error is missing the right one and a Type II error is choosing the wrong one.

The Costs of the Errors

In selection decision-making, there are certainly costs associated with missing the “right” one” (opportunity costs). However, I think you’d agree the costs associated with a Type II error (e.g. hiring the “wrong” one) are much greater when you consider:  

·        Wages

·        Benefits

·        Waste  

·        Lost productivity

·        Safety issues

·        Inability to move up

·        Documentation, documentation, documentation

Often when an organization identifies a Type II, they will try different things to enable them to perform:

·        Put them in training of some kind

·        Transfer them to other departments

·        Offer engagement opportunities

·        Offer other kinds of interventions

·        Put them on a performance improvement plan 

At some point, when these efforts don’t do the trick, these same organizations may attempt to or actually dismiss the Type II error.

The Shift

If you are in the business of selecting employees to go to work for your organization, does the above makes sense to you?

Your mantra or refrain needs to be: reduce or eliminate Type II errors at the time of selection!

Now, in order to do this, (reduce Type II’s) you are going to miss some good matches (Type I’s).

If you’re right and they really are that good, what you need to tell yourself is that they’ll be OK. They will land on their feet. However, if you are wrong and you select them, be prepared for them to be around for a long time!

A thought that has always stuck with me is this:

If you hire a good employee, they may leave.

If you hire a marginal employee, they’ll never leave.

Next Time

What tools help you minimize Type II errors.

Joe Nowlin earned his doctorate from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

During the past 40 years, he has designed, tested, and installed proprietary and unmatched selection procedures for manufacturing organizations, transforming and revolutionizing the way they do business, the level of success in hiring personnel and the methods that companies can use to replicate his results.

He has now adapted these proprietary systems for use in medium-sized and smaller organizations.


Read more posts by Joe Nowlin

 Neenah, WI 54956
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