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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Policies Preventing Success

This New York Times articles caught my eye. The first, Tracing Business Acumen to Dyslexia begins this way:
It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.

They have had to overcome a great deal and therefore, don't fear challenges. Dyslexics are better at delegation and in picking who to delegate too, apparently. The study (while small) suggests that 35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

The NY Times states:
“Entrepreneurs are hands-on people who push a minimum of paper, do lots of stuff orally instead of reading and writing, and delegate authority, all of which suggests a high verbal facility,” Mr. Dennis said. “Compare that with corporate managers who read, read, read.”

Indeed, according to Professor Logan, only 1 percent of corporate managers in the United States have dyslexia.

Hmmm. Does HR play a role in setting up that type of culture and those requirements? You bet. Should we? Maybe. In some cases it makes sense, in others, not so much. For a position that needs to be highly innovative, wouldn't it make more sense to lessen some of the tedious responsibilities to open it up to entrepreneurial types?

What about micro-managers? Please, heaven help us, we want to get rid of them. They drive us insane. They are in our offices complaining about their employees. Their employees are in our offices complaining about them. If they could go away, our lives would be much happier. The coping skills dyslexics had to gain to survive make them (apparently) less likely to micro-manage.

Why is there so much reading at the top? Just what are these people reading, anyway? I know at my company most changes to employees have to be approved by rather senior people. This is an example of micro managing at its worst. If you report to me and I want to promote you and I have money in my budget (and it's within guidelines, blah, blah, blah) why should I have to get approval from my division head? I know, I know, equity and fairness. Bah! I know what's going on in my department better than they do.

If I'm making bad decisions, coach me. If that doesn't work, fire me. Don't micro-manage me.

Will hiring more dyslexics solve all our problems? Of course not. Will removing barriers to their success help? Perhaps. It comes down to being able to determine what is necessary for the job, rather than what traditionally has been done. We need to be able to separate out the two.

2 comments:

Dyslexic HR professional said...

Interesting article. I have 14+ years of experience as a dyslexic HR professional. While, I have managed to develop coping strategies to maximize my success, it has not been easy. I have often found myself in positions and tasks where I had to struggle to perform, and underutilized in areas where I naturally excel. Truthfully I have often questioned whether HR was a wise career path; it certainly hasn’t been an easy one. Unfortunately you reach a point when children, mortgages and car payments preclude a late career change. Ironically, even though I work in a profession that claims to maximize human capital, to be successful, I have had to push my round little self into a square little whole. I have done a good job of hammering myself in, but it was painful and of course, I got stuck.

Wally Bock said...

One thing that has frustrated me about the article you cite and the discussions of it is that they all seem to treat dyslexia as a single condition. It's more like a continuum. At one end are people who may transpose letters and numbers and very little more. As a rule they don't have a problem reading or with standardized tests. At the other end are people who have severe difficulties with both. I can't seem to find out whether there was any distinction made in the study for severity which makes me question any conclusions.