Kinetic Human Resources – People In Motion

This is the third part of my series looking at HR from a standpoint of Physics.

Lightweights on collision course

My 401(k) options always offer this bit of warning: Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

In the field of Human Resources, we frequently look at past performance as the primary indicator of future performance. From the standpoint of the laws of physics, this makes sense. Do you remember? A body at rest tends to remain at rest. A body in motion tends to remain in motion. Motion is the key word here.

Now we all know motion alone isn’t enough. We’ve all met the fast mover who seems to be constantly doing something but accomplishing little. We frequently call them “lightweights”, and there’s a reason.

Time for the formulas that apply to this lesson: f=m*a  and  p=m*v.  Force equals mass times acceleration. Momentum (p) equals mass times velocity.

A lightweight doesn’t fair well in either of these equations. We are usually more enamored with the heavyweight – the one who seems to be very accomplished.

Here’s the caution: We often feel that we can adjust the momentum of a “heavyweight with issues”. Issues like he breaks a rule here and there or he is a little too abusive with the staff. He leaves bodies behind. Remember though – once in motion, he tends to stay in motion.

On the other hand, a lightweight can be guided to make the best use of acceleration and velocity and get useful work done. Without a lot of cleanup required.

So while I believe past results are a strong indicator of future performance, I also believe that what I am looking for in an employee is the ability to accomplish work. Work is not force (alone) and work is not momentum. Work is for the next lesson.

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