In the scripted for ratings drama (read: reality show) Celebrity Apprentice, celebrities vie for contributions for charity, while competing in a variety of business "projects." In the most recent episode, Michael Andretti of race-car fame was "fired" because he did not step up to lead a project based upon a Buick promotion. Host Donald Trump made it clear from the start that the strongly branded Andretti was best suited to be the project manager for this task. Never mind that the teams were not being judged on the selection of project manager.
The show is about as far from reality as one gets, but a very important lesson has been provided. You’ve heard of the square peg and the round hole; in short, some things don’t fit well (some not at all). There is no question that Andretti possesses powerful and relevant brand recognition- he is a legend in the auto-racing industry. That does not mean he is best suited to be the voice of the promotion and indeed he was the first to say he was not. Unfortunately for Andretti, the boss expected him to provide talents, which are not among his strengths.
As hiring managers we seek the most appropriate talent for each position we fill. The growth and sustainability of our business is dependent on hiring the "right" people. With so much hanging in the balance we have a responsibility to:
Clearly define our expectations to all prospective and current employees
Ensure that these expectations are understood
Carefully select candidates based upon these expectations
Provide opportunity for development when a change in expectations is adopted
Acknowledge that everyone cannot do everything
It’s not to say that a square (or round) peg cannot be re-tooled. But, attempting to force the square peg into the round hole is not a productive way to deal with our failure to address the aforementioned responsibilities. As with most efforts, a little forethought can make the job a whole lot easier.