Arguably a debate that started with Darwin and his origin of species Nature or Nurture refers to the relative influence of 'hard wired' behavioural traits and the environment that individuals grow up and live in on their actions, attitudes and decision making. This has occupied psychologists for years and consumes lots of theoretical debate time but it's an important business dynamic and one that can't be ignored if you want Top Performers. If you accept that both have influence then Nature or Nurture is not a choice! The equation is not "Nature ˅ Nurture" its Nature + Nurture if you want Top Performance.
Recruitment is a key tool in our mission to develop Top Performing Teams with clients; the answer to every problem in business is people! New machine, new process, new product…. People are what make them all work. Our process uses psychometric assessments http://bit.ly/15Jq0yE as a way of matching not just competencies ("can they do it") with behavioural traits ("will they do it and enjoy the task"). Competencies are easy, you can test for them and see clear evidence of educational attainment but behaviour is not so easy, people can modify their behaviour to look like what they think you want them to be, something that is especially prevalent in a recruitment process as anyone who has hired people knows where someone wants (or think they want) a role. This is the nature part of the equation and you need to get it right.
You wouldn't train a dog that way, smack it on the nose every time it does something wrong and ignore it's good behaviour and you will get bitten at some point
BUT getting Nature right is not good enough, if you put good people in an environment that discourages or hampers their performance you'll get two results, good people will leave you (why the hell should they stay!) and even if you get them to persist with you then results will disappoint and you may decide yourself to part company with them. In either case the business underperforms. For example if you create an environment where managers and employees believe that they are being judged all the time then you get a team that resists change (change is risky) and they will do the best they can with what they have. What you want is not "the best we can do" it's THE BEST what Toyota call 'True North' in a manufacturing context, 0 defects 100% OTIF. Those same people given the confidence to make mistakes and a supportive environment that praises wins and looks to learn from losses may surprise you with their ability. Jump down their throat at every small problem and guess what… they'll hide the problems and spend huge amounts of management time passing blame to each other. Customers? Well they'll come well down their important things to worry about list! You wouldn't train a dog that way, smack it on the nose every time it does something wrong and ignore it's good behaviour and you will get bitten at some point or you'll end up with a dog that cowers at your approach, if you wouldn't treat an animal like that why on earth would you treat the people who you want to fight and win for you like that
At MBA we measure our success in recruitment by retention rate (currently better than 76% first time) and we've had clients for over 12 years which tells its own story, but we see differences between the stats for different organisations, some are way better than others. Getting the Nature part of the equation right is about recruitment, getting the Nurture part right is about how you lead manage inspire and reward those people and the culture as leader you engender. Every new employee we help appoint comes with a coaching report to help clients give their new employee the best chance of success, read it or don't, but if I was making an investment I'd want to give it the very best chance of success.
© Chris Ball October 2013