Talent Management — Snakes!

There is an old joke/fable that most of you have probably heard… it goes something like this:

One day a manager was scouring the countryside for a solid candidate, but striking out everywhere. Lions were too lazy, elephants ate too much, monkeys wouldn’t sit still. The eagles always wanted to be in charge. This manager, beaten and depressed, dropped down and sat in the middle of a field.

Shortly, he heard a hissing, and looked next to his foot… it was a 6-foot rattlesnake! “Hey, there,” said the snake. “I hear you need help. Just hire me, and all your troubles will be over. I’m crafty, pretty fast, and not trying to climb any ladders.”

“Wait a minute…” said the manager, “… you’re a snake! I’ll have to check your references first.” So, the manager contacted people whom the snake had been with before, and sure enough, “You don’t have a very good reputation,” said the manager. “They all say that hiring you will just come back to bite me.”

“C’mon,” said the snake. “Those people are just disgruntled, and maybe even a little jealous. Trust your gut — you need me.”

So, the manager finally acquiesced and hired the snake, who turned out to be a super employee. The manager began thinking he nearly misjudged, and that the references were misguided. Then one day, of course, the snake simply slithered up alongside and bit the manager on the leg.

“WHAT???” cried the manager… “You promised that if I would just give you a chance, this wouldn’t happen.”

“Yes, I did,” said the snake, “but you knew I was a snake when you hired me.”

Now, the real joke is much longer, but you get the idea. In this war for competitive, competent talent, it’s easy to ignore our instincts and available proof, and succomb to the belief that, “maybe they’ll work out after all.”

If something looks too good to be true, or you are convinced through judgment, history, or instinct that it’s wrong… run away from it.

It’s not worth the snakebite later…


Kevin Berchelmann

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