Sunday, 22 September 2013

It's not my fault I'm a rubbish manager - it's genetic (and I'm a Libran)

It's amazing where you can discover linkages to the wonderful world of HR if only you know where to look!

For instance, a recent edition of Radio 4's Start The Week (Monday morning work-out for the grey cells) concerned the rather esoteric subject of "Fairytale Physics" and explored how much of what modern science (especially Physics) claims to describe reality but in fact doesn't!

One of the contributors stated:

"There are a lot of geneticists going out looking out for the obesity gene. When I was a kid, growing up in the village, there was one man who had a known metabolic problem, and he was the only fat man in the village. Now just walk down any street and it’s full of incredibly obese people, and this is a major problem. Reducing our very nature to our genetic make-up absolves us of responsibility for our own lives in some way"

The implication was that now there is supposedly a gene for just about anything and everything (including obesity) you seem to see lots more such people who (presumably) explain their physical condition simply by saying, "I know I'm overweight, but it's genetic.

Oddly enough this doesn’t seem a million miles away from the current trend in popular psychometrics, where certain individuals use their basic level of understanding of the subject to explain their unacceptable behaviour, does it?

How many times have you heard individuals say things such as "Well I'm a Myers-Briggs ENTJ, so I'm bound to jump to conclusions and come across as a bit dictatorial aren't I?" Or "You need to understand that when I did the Transactional Analysis Self Assessment, it showed me that I've got a really strong Hurry Up driver, so that's why I often get impatient with my team"

It is perhaps even more worrying that those who take refuge behind the MBTI psychometric profile, are doing so behind a psychometric profile that is being increasingly questioned with respect to its validity. At times the "OK it may not be scientifically proven, but you've got to admit that it fairly accurately describes the character of a lot of people" sounds remarkably like the view of those who say, "I know that astrology is a load of cobblers, but actually I am a fairly typical Libran you know."

It is as if some people use their psychometric profile to justify their inappropriate behaviour, rather than use it as a way of throwing light on an aspect of their personality that they may wish to modify or eliminate.

All a personality profile can do (however valid and reputable) is to paint a picture of a person's character, style, and likely behaviour in given circumstances. What it can never do is justify that behaviour, especially when it is inappropriate. We behave the way that we do largely because we choose to do so, not because of our Myers Briggs profile, or the fact that Mercury was in the ascendant when we were born.

As ever, Shakespeare has something to say on the issue. As Cassius reminds Brutus shortly before the assassination of Julius Caesar: 

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

(And if this blog seems slightly diplomatic and idealistic, yet at the same time flirtatious and self indulgent, I guess that is what is to be expected from a typical Libran. Possibly!)

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