Catch that pigeon

by | Aug 7, 2017

You should know me by now, I’ve got an opinion on most things and a theory for all. But I’ve got one theory/opinion that keeps cropping up.

We, as human beings, have a sub-conscious need to pigeon-hole or categorise things. It is the categorisation that tells us what our response to something or someone should be. This is more elemental than mere stereotyping. It works like this; you meet someone and immediately assess who/what they are and the interaction proceeds according to the rules assigned to that pigeon-hole.

This is one of the reason that we struggle with gender fluidity. We must know what sex someone is and what their sexuality is because then we can bring in the female gay, male straight rules and we go.

And before anyone jumps in, number one child was gay and number two child is struggling with her gender identity. I do not ‘accept’ them – I accept that Waitrose has run out of the product I want, I don’t accept a person’s right to be themselves. Anyone who says they ‘accept’ their child’s gender and/or sexuality choices clearly see these choices as being a thing. You only have the right to do that if they can pass judgement and ‘accept’ the gender and/or sexuality choices you have made. Touché!

But this isn’t a completely off-piste blog about parenting confused teenagers. This is about job specs and how they can act against the organisation that has them.

Job specs are what we introduce into a business to help us make sense of our environment and trigger the appropriate response from our in-built response menu. This response might not be gender, sexuality or race based, but it’s still conforming to our ‘you are x, I will interact like y’ mentality. How often have you heard the phrase “…she’s only the secretary…”? ‘She’ may only be ‘the secretary’ but she’s managed to successfully stop you talking to the person you want.

And here’s where job specs fall down: small businesses. As a small business, you need an extra pair of hands to help on a whole variety of stuff, but you need a job spec. You need to crowbar these jobs into something that other people can identify with. It won’t help you in the least, but at least it gives them the information they need to dismiss the vacancy because the job title and the work outlined don’t match up.

A company local to us (whom I have a lot of respect for) has posted a couple of items on social media recently about flexible working, something we promote at every opportunity, but flexibility seems to be lost when it comes to the jobs being advertised. Why can’t you have a flexible job spec? To take this one step further there’s not one mother I know of who cannot multitask the shit out of stuff. She can ensure all the kids have the right stuff on the right day, get to all their clubs and activities on time, be thoroughly adaptable in all social situations, knowing instinctively if it calls for jeans and a tee or something a little smarter, has a seemingly limitless source of energy and can manage a household under exceedingly trying situations. Well excuse me, but I’ll have a piece of that in my business thank you. That is an amazing set of skills that I feel shows diversity, creativity, enthusiasm for thankless tasks and an innate understanding that little things matter and do count.

So reiterating my earlier point, why can’t we have flexible job specs?

We’d need to get rid of our pigeon-holes wouldn’t we and our business cards would have to change a little; “I do anything that needs doing” takes up quite a bit of space and is statement of fact rather than a title. Come to think of it neither Trusty nor myself have anything on our cards; it just seemed irrelevant and to be honest if you need to ask, Mr Client the answer is likely to be “The person doing your work”.

Perhaps I’ll challenge convention and put out an ad for someone with a range of skills who can think on their feet and keep their head under pressure. Maybe some problem-solving tasks instead of an interview to test the proclaimed skills and a chat to establish fit. We’ll see where this takes us.

If you’re looking for your someone with a wide range of skills, who can think on their feet and keep their head under pressure, then give Julie or Charlie a call on 01462 713444 to set up a date for you to test us out. What have you got to lose? And if you think we’re not cost effective check out The devil’s in disguise blog which may challenge some of your views on the value of outsourcing.

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