Recently, I visited London for the British Psychological Society Educational, Forensic and Occupational Testing Joint Verifiers’ Meeting. Just in time for the holidays, I had the extreme good fortune of meeting with one of Britain’s most renowned experts in finance to talk about hiring, employee selection and the secret to his business’s longevity.
In exchange for the promise of buying him dinner, I secured an interview with Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.
We met at The Albion for a frank and fascinating conversation. As a leader in the financial industry holding a seat on the London Stock Exchange, Mr. Scrooge provided intriguing insight into the psychology behind his organization’s success.
Over grilled steak and a bottle of Bordeaux, I asked Mr. Scrooge the following questions….
- Your 230th birthday was widely celebrated this year. You seem to enjoy good health, and are still running a large and successful corporation. What’s the secret to your longevity?
Secret? There’s no secret, only what others refuse to see with their own eyes and believe. If you wish to succeed in business, make it your business—exclusively! Let nothing interfere with your goals. Avoid flexibility in your daily routine. Work long hours and work hard. I believe it was your Mr. Franklin who advocated the benefits to the early bird? A sure course for business success is to model the bird who hunts for the worm he’s after not only in the early hours, but relentlessly.
Work long, work hard and let your natural love of cold harsh cash dictate your every move. Then it’s a simple matter of protecting your hard-earned profits through miserly stewardship. You don’t see the blackbird divvying up its bounty to share among less fortunate friends, do you?
- Your business has grown tremendously, from employing just yourself and Mr. Marley to now employing over 180,000 individuals worldwide. To what can you attribute this phenomenal growth?
Our initial success was based on a simple approach. What’s yours there, “Choosing employees and building careers”? Hmpff.
Though we never bothered to pen it, Mr. Marley and I had a slogan, too—a rather catchy one: “Maximize profitability at all costs.” From the first, I recognized it pays to be ruthless. You can’t take too much advantage of the dimwitted or desperate, especially in your growth phase. Progress is crucial at all costs!
- Despite a growing movement for greater participation from employees in decisions that will affect them, your leadership style seems to remain firmly fixed as authoritarian. What do you see as the chief advantages of this approach?
Are you paying the slightest bit of attention, woman? My leadership style maximizes profits. It allows me to control my business and my money my way. I don’t invade my employees’ homes, interfere with their decisions. Why should they presume to interfere with mine?
- As you know, employee engagement is considered essential to the success of today’s business organisations. How do you foster this within your own business?
Employee engagement – Bah, humbug! Has that whining, ungrateful excuse for a clerk of mine got a hold of you? Every winter, it’s the same thing with Cratchit. “Not enough coal in the scuttle, Mr. Scrooge.” Fouling my office with incessant cheer and goodwill. Come this December 26th, I may finally turn him out the door for good…
- The option of employees working remotely has gained a great deal of popularity recently, and seems to offer benefits to both workers and their employers. Will we see this being introduced at ‘Scrooge and Marley’ during the upcoming year…perhaps for Mr. Cratchit?
If it saves a penny – one penny! – I’m in favor of it, of course. Couldn’t care less about the benefits to Cratchit or any other workers though. The question one must ask is always the same: Will it increase profitability? Is it in keeping with progress? I’m not convinced. I’m more likely to wait it out then jump on the latest fad.
Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I prefer a man I invest in to be accountable, and to me that means watched like a hawk. Utter nonsense to imagine a clerk like Cratchit could dot a single “i” in quarters he’s packed to the rafters with mouths to feed.
- What do you consider to be the most important asset of your business?
Myself, of course. But since we’ve all got to die someday, I suppose it must be my business savvy. My shrewdness. Long may my reputation for prospering as a good man of business live!
- Many organisations today are opting for psychometric testing during recruitment and employee selection. What are your views on assessing aptitudes and personality traits among potential new hires?
Interestingly enough, it’s here we may find common ground in our approaches, Dr. Caska, although I suspect for slightly different reasons. You see, I was skeptical about these psychometric tests–unimpressed with the promise of increased profitability in the long run. After all, this kind of testing comes at a cost, and hadn’t myself and my supervisors been hiring for centuries without it? What was all this gibberish about choosing the right man for the job?
I adopted a change of heart in a most peculiar way. It was Christmas Eve some years ago when an apparition of my former partner Marely appeared to me in a dream. One by one, he catalogued the advantages psychometric testing had to offer.
Through a series of visions, he demonstrated precisely how these tests would allow me to pick workers possessing the exact skills necessary to complete the work I needed them to do. Not only were they well suited to the work, they stuck to it! They remained within my organization, minimizing the costs of an admittedly high turn-over rate. So convincing were the visions, I awoke a changed man—eager to invest in future profits through psychometric testing!
Thanks to Marley’s input from beyond the grave? My business now thrives with the support of individuals ideally suited for long hours. Those who excel under the effort needed to meet my exacting demands for productivity.
Excuse me, Mr. Scrooge. But I have some concerns about what you’re saying. Perhaps I could work with your HR manager on incorporating tests effectively into selection. It’s not too late, you know, to–
I may be old, but I’m no fool. I’ve seen it all when it comes to hiring over the decades. Tried everything. These psychometric tests you’re so keen on? As the owner and CEO of a large corporation who’s employed hundreds of thousands of workers, I can attest to their profitability!
If only old Marley would pay another visit! I suspect I might learn a thing or two or maybe even three more to my advantage…
Yes. Hopefully Mr. Marley will become enlightened on the ethical uses of psychometric testing prior to your next encounter. Shall we move on?
Yes, yes—time and tide wait for no man, myself included.
- One’s own inner strengths and sources of inspiration can be so important in achieving life’s goals. Could you tell me a bit about what you have drawn on over the years to become the person you are today?
I’ve no use for pointless self-reflection. What’s it got to do with profits?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a business to run. I’ve finished my meal anyway and I see you’ve finished the wine. I must get back to the office.
- Thank you, Mr. Scrooge, and Merry Christmas. Any plans for the holidays?
Left to keep Christmas in my own way, I suspect it will be a quiet, uneventful one preceded by a well-earned, peaceful night’s sleep.
But in keeping with the situation, I shall return your well wishes.
I wish you and your readers a Merry Christmas. And a happy and prosperous New Year!