Author: Kevin Simpson

When University of Perdue professor William Muir wanted to study productivity in the workplace he turned to the workplace he knew best – and the workers he knew best – chickens.

Muir knew that the output productivity of chickens was directly proportional to the number of eggs they lay, so he developed the quintessential study to create a flock of egg producing super chickens.

The results he got were astounding, and unbeknownst to him would create a topic of study for years to come.

Muir started by creating a flock of regular, healthy, normal producing chickens. He separated them into their own flock to lay eggs, reproduce and do what chickens do.

In parallel to this he also took a flock of the most productive, egg producing chickens he could find – super chickens if you will – and he separated them as he had done with the average Joe flock. He also took the top egg producing hens, and had them bred to the best roosters in the flock to attempt to stimulate the super breeding of more super chickens,

Six Generations Passed

When Muir went back to his flock of average Joe chickens he found all them of healthy plump weights, feathers, and lifestyle. More importantly egg production had consistently risen over the 6 generations of life. They were ideal chickens with ideal productivity.

Next he went to see his super chickens and he was shocked at what he found.

Only three of his super chickens remained. The rest had plucked each other to death. What had made them super egg producers it seems had also made them super competitive, and in the wild west of farm egg production that means a battle to the death.

What Muir was able to correlate: The super chickens were only “super” in context to the normal chickens they had lived with before he separated them. In fact, their productivity was higher because they decreased the productivity of the normal chickens. They weren’t super at all. There were just preverbal pains in the chicken ass.

All but three of the super chickens had killed each other, by a violent plucking death

In looking at Muir’s chickens it’s amazing the number of ties we can make back to our own workplaces. What started as an attempt to measure and increase productivity on a farm really begins to cast a light on the inter-workings of our business relationships and workplace personality types.

We are upon reflection, no different from the chickens, our flock simply exists within our workplace walls.

I wanted to investigate this further in the context of who and how we hire new employees. The economy of professional recruiting has continued to grow and along with it so has the number of personality tests and analysis techniques to insure we hire the right person for the right job.

But what we are hiring the right employee and putting them with the wrong workers. How do we know we have the right flock?

I approached Nagui Bihelek CEO of Business Edge Staffing in Calgary Alberta and the person behind the extremely successfulAccuMatch recruiting system.

Bihelek says his system sees the success it does (an almost 100% match rate) because more than just look at the ideal job candidate, his system also analyzes the flock so to speak, and gets an understanding of what points of culture and sense of team exist before the hiring process begins.

“Sometimes while doing our pre-interviews with the hiring company we find we have to work with the hiring team and do a re-alignment on points of culture, and team chemistry” says Bihelek.

“We find many companies looking to hire have well thought out vision and mission statements, but no culture statement that really helps defines a lot of the interaction between employees. From how they respect each other, to how they treat their customers. Often we need to do a Workplace Dynamics session to begin that shift and work with the organization to start to develop key points of culture that they will carry with them from that point on.”

Everyone has a clock with an organization. For most people they carry that clock from job to job. Bihelek told me sometimes employees exceed the time spent in a role and this is often what starts to effect team culture, and can lead to the start of a super chicken mindset. Remember as with Muir’s chickens, the most productive only achieved their results by inhibiting the productivity of others.

Ask yourself next time you evaluate your team – is this happening to you? Ask yourself this question:

What exactly makes my most productive people the most productive?

You might be shocked to find that it’s strong handiness more than strong work ethic.

Bihelek says “Once we are clear on the abundance of teamwork with a workplace, we then begin our recruiting process. This involves a series of online and face to face testing where we look at 50 specific traits of a candidate. Our goal is to uncover experience, skill and perhaps more importantly – potential. ”

This is a huge part of why AccuMatch remains so successful.

Uncovering potential in a new employee almost always becomes more valuable to an organization than present day skills

So think twice before placing that job ad and simply hiring a new person to join your flock. Take a minute to look internally and ask yourself – “Is our team the best it can be to allow the next successful person to thrive here, or are we going to pluck them to death with the super chickens we allow to rule our roost”

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
William Shakespeare