Let The Rabbits Run

Soar With Your StrengthsJob match is an integral part of a candidate’s actual on-the-job success. Job match refers to how well an individual’s cognitive abilities, interests, and personality traits match those required for success in a particular job.

To illustrate, let’s paraphrase the parable “Let the Rabbits Run,” from the book Soar With Your Strengths:

There were several young animals in the forest: a duck, a fish, an owl, an eagle, a squirrel and a rabbit. Each told his parents he wanted to go to school to improve himself. The parents thought this was a good idea. They enrolled the young animals in a school with a curriculum of running, jumping, swimming, tree climbing, and flying. On the first day of school, the little rabbit got up early to be in school on time.

He brushed his teeth, combed his hair, ate his breakfast, and went to school with high expectations and excitement. His first class was running. He did great! His teacher told him he was a wonderful runner, and he got an A+ and his self-esteem got a boost. The next day, the little rabbit went to jumping class. Again he did very well, received compliments from his teacher, and got an A+ and a boost to his self-esteem.
The day after that, the little rabbit went to swimming class. He wasn’t very good at it. His teacher said he didn’t do very well at swimming, gave him a low grade, and told him he had to learn to enjoy being wet. His self-esteem suffered. The little rabbit was determined to succeed. For two weeks, the rabbit tried as hard as he could, but he just couldn’t get the knack of swimming. He became discouraged and began to lose interest in school.

The rabbit was called to the principal’s office with his parents. He was told that he was failing swimming class. As a remedy, the principal and the little rabbit’s parents decided that he would be taken out of the running and jumping classes (because he could already do these things so well) and instead would be assigned to three swimming classes each day. The little rabbit tried to improve his swimming, but eventually became totally discouraged. When he was told that flying classes were next, he dropped out of school.

“Let the Rabbits Run” illustrates what happens when managers try to train their people for tasks or skills that are foreign to who they are. Knowing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, a manager can amplify (on the job) that person’s strong points while minimizing (or avoiding) weak areas, thereby helping build the employee’s self-esteem and increasing his job performance. A manager who hires a person without a natural job match and thinks he can overcome the new hire’s shortcomings with training might as well be trying to train a rabbit to swim instead of hiring a fish.

The degree to which a candidate’s cognitive abilities, interests, and personality fit those required by a particular position determines the degree of job match.

People fail in a job not because they can’t do the job, but rather because they don’t match the job.