Thursday, October 12, 2006

What not to wear...HR edition

In every couple there are shows that one person likes and the other doesn't. One such show for my wife and I used to be "What not to wear" a reality-type show on BBC America (and elsewhere) in which two fashion experts do makeovers of British women. I say "used to" because recently I've gotten hooked.

While much of the show is devoted to an analysis of what the woman wears, how she wears her hair, etc. the heart of each episode is the psychological analysis that the two hosts perform on their victim, er, guest. The person is deconstructed (including standing in front of a mirror wearing only their underwear) and provided with brutally honest feedback regarding their body (although always focusing on a person's strengths) and their fashion tastes. Not surprisingly, after a drastic wardrobe, hair, and makeup change, the person looks 100 times better. The more interesting part of the show is watching the emotional reaction these reserved women have when seeing themselves and observing the reaction of others.

So this got me to thinking...when in life do others provide us with this type of brutally honest feedback? Sure, if you had a life coach or personal shopper they might perform this type of service. But what about in the work world? A career coach might do something similar. But what about thinking bigger picture? What if an organization brought someone in to offer this type of analysis, on a voluntary basis, for its workforce? Imagine an assessment expert going in and offering a bevy of high quality selection instruments for anyone interested in feedback. The consultant compiles the results then provides VERY honest feedback to individuals--"You need to work on your reading comprehension ability"--mixed of course with high scores and how to benefit and sustain those as well.

Could this work? Has it worked? Would this just be a recipe for misuse by the organization? (not if results were confidential)

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