What Frozen Teaches Us About Hiring

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by Jas Singh

Over the Christmas holidays, I watched the movie Frozen with my children for the first time. For those who have been hiding under a cave (ermm…like me until a few weeks ago..), the movie has been a mega blockbuster and by far Disney’s most successful release in the last decade. It’s now the biggest selling animated hit of all time, and the DVD is still sold out.

It’s great fun. For all the family. Whether you are a 2 year old child or a grandparent, the movie is both entertaining and meaningful.

 

 

Without wanting to spoil it for those who haven’t watched it, the story is based on two sisters – Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the eldest of the two – queen-to-be and blessed with magical powers. Anna is the whackier and more fun younger sibling – insecure, funny and desperate to find love and affection. The tale is based in the mystical land of Arendelle and is full of drama, love and humour.

I couldn’t reccomend the film highly enough!

As a hiring specialist, I couldn’t help but think how many of the lessons of the movie apply to life in the business world. Here are some of the things that I think hiring managers can learn from the movie:

 

1. Don’t fall in love with candidates too quickly

In her desperation for love and connection, Anna engages is a whirlwind romance with Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. Later on in the movie she realises (when it’s almost too late) that she was wrong about him and that she was blinded by her initial impressions of a good looking and successful person – without taking the time to find out if he was actually right for her.

I’ve yet to work with a hiring manager who has not made this same mistake. In fact as I’ve mentioned in past posts, interviewer bias is perhaps the biggest barrier to successful and consistent hiring. As long as you have a brain, we are ALL subject to biases and so the only way to overcome this is to make hiring decisions based on a carefully structured and proved hiring formula. Not just on interviewer “feedback”.

 

 

2. The people who can often help you the most are sitting right next to you.

Queen Elsa is continuosly searching for answers throughout the movie. She even runs away from home to find peace. In the end, after much turmoil, it’s actually her sister Anna who gives her the answer she is looking for.

How many hiring managers spend years looking for the “golden-bullet” new hire, only to realise that they had someone internally who was the best person for the job? Off course in many situations hiring externally is totally the right outcome, but as we advise all our clients, there should always be a pipeline of internal candidates for every new hire – that are assessed alongside external candidates – not just before or after.

 

 

3. Nearly all weaknesses can be converted into strengths.

The central theme of the movie is that Queen Elsa is unable to control her powers. She see’s it as a curse and tries to hide it – unsuccessfully and with disastrous consequences. By the end of the movie she realises to embrace herself for who she is, and use her powers for good when she can.

The best hiring managers realise there are very few things that can be categorized purely as abstract strengths or weaknesses. A weakness in one particular role can often be a big strength in another. For example, a person who cannot take instructions very well may not be a good in a large team but might be a great candidate for working remotely on a new project. Someone who may be too detail orientated may make a poor manager but could be a great contributor.

Don’t judge too quickly – almost everyone can be the perfect employee – they just need the perfect job.

 

 

4. Team players often out perform those who are much more “talented”

On face-value, it seems very unlikely that little Anna will be much help to queen Elsa. After all she has no magic powers, is pretty naive and generally causes more trouble when she is around. However, the one difference she has is that she enlists the help of others – Kristoff, Sven and Olaf as well as others. Powerful queen Elsa on the otherhand just shuts people out. In the end teamwork saves the day.

Numerous studies have proven that team players perform much better in the work place. Quite simply, teams can accomplish things that an individual alone cannout do. But we live in a world where we value only those things that we can “see” – qualifications, achievements and awards over “softer” things like teamwork.

Sure, we all “know” that teamwork is important but who wants to be known first and foremost as a team player? Isn’t it far more sexier to be known as a marketing guru, a killer salesman or a whizz-kid programmer? I mean even after the important lessons it teaches, merchandise for the powerful Princess Elsa has far outsold that for our team-player Princess Anna!

Top hiring managers understand the value of intangibles. They place an emphasis on teamwork in the right environment.

 

 

5. A Sense of Humor goes a long way

Frozen is a story of hardship and at times even hurt. There are plenty of setbacks and often relationships between the various characters is strained – even hateful at times. Yet everyone pulls through – mainly because they try to see the funny side when they can and try to enjoy the chaos that is going on around them.
After ten years as a hiring specialist, I can say with confidence that most hiring managers don’t particularly enjoy hiring. For many, it’s actually even painful – trying to find the right person quickly when the stakes are high.

 

The thing is, you can only be successful if you learn to love what you do. This takes time – but is essential for success. Personal trainers realise that as long as you dread working out you will never enter the gym. That’s why they try to make initial work-outs fun and easy to start with until it becomes a habit. The same is true of hiring managers – until you decide to start to enjoy hiring and see it as a personal power that is essential to your success, your results will also be mixed.

Go on. Crack a smile in an interview. Try and have some fun :)

 

 

Conclusion

The key to any successful movie is that it touches people. And Frozen can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever been a child, a sibling, a friend or a lover. Pretty much everyone.

The most important lessons in life are usually universal – the same principles apply to relationships, family and even business.

Frozen emphasises some important lessons for everyone – young and old – and hiring managers can certainly use this principles to increase their hiring power and hire top performers.

Next time your hiring, would you hire Elsa or Anna? :)

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