The Rise of Meritocracy

by Race Bannon on June 20, 2009

Meritocracy is on the rise, especially in the business world where degrees and certifications have often replaced sound judgment about hiring and performance when assessing someone’s abilities and knowledge. In other words, those who actually demonstrate what they know and what they can do will rise farther than those relying on past educational credentials for advancement.

In corporate Human Resources departments the big buzzword phrase currently is “talent management.” Talent Management is the process of attracting, hiring, improving and retaining talent (meaning talented employees). Companies are desperate to implement good talent management policies in order to counteract an increasingly less ideal pool of potential employee candidates.

Past practice in the business world was to look to a person’s educational background first when hiring employees. When the set of knowledge in a particular area of study was more or less static and thoroughly covered in college curriculum, this made some sense (although it was ultimately always a bad idea). But that’s not the case today and it never will be again. The knowledge and skills required to be considered expert in any one area requires a constantly updated education and skill set.

Perhaps it’s the ubiquitous nature of the internet and the technologically networked society we now live in. Whatever the reason, the breadth and depth of education that’s required in the workplace today require what this blog celebrates – the ability to self educate.

If you want to separate yourself from the pack of those you currently work with or from others in your field, foster your self education abilities. Always seek out knowledge, skills and insight that will improve your work performance. If you make this an integral part of your daily work life, you’ll secure your future professionally while also making your work more fulfilling.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kirk June 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Your blog about meritocracy is awesome. It is so true. Reading it, I had an “Aha!” moment. As one middle school teacher who bemoans the state of education in the U.S.A. today it is clear to me that the education world is moving exactly in the opposite direction from what you describe in your blog. It does so in several ways:

1. Standardized testing, especially in California, rewards random, rote, and useless knowledge.
2. Central office administrators who determine curricula and student behavioral policies increasingly have had little to no teaching experience
3. Education leaders (both in government, textbook companies, and the unions) are even worse as their bottom line is not education, it’s money.
4. The public does not value education anymore. I cannot tell you how many parents these days enable their kids to work and behave poorly. Teachers who have high expectations of their students are too often unsupported.
5. Teachers who try to teach outside the box in creative ways are squelched, either by administrators, parents, or some fellow teachers who tattle on them if they don’t adhere to rigid and too often arbitrary state standards.

I am a teacher of 24+ years who has seen education and it’s perceived value deteriorate dramatically. Unfortunately, while your comments are, indeed, true for the world of business, they are not true for education.

Thanks so much for your blog as it has really made clear to me one major disconnect between education and the “real world”! I look forward to more discussion about this.

2 Race Bannon June 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Kirk, I’m glad you found the post to have proven interesting. As your astute comments illustrate, we need a lot more dialogue about this stuff. Thanks for contributing to that dialogue.

3 Race Bannon June 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm

April, thanks for the kind words. And yes, I will be writing again soon.

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