The Perfect Employee?

Mr. Machine - Ideal Toy Company circa 1960

It’s time to hire someone. New work has developed that requires additional skill, or an employee has submitted notice that they are leaving. Maybe, if you are good at talent forecasting, you are just anticipating a need for the near future. Time to hire.

So you do whatever your particular process is. Maybe you call your favorite recruiter. Perhaps you work for a firm that has it’s own talent team. Either way, you start to explain what you are looking for. You have a job spec that you used the last time you hired for a similar role. Or at least a job description. The hiring authority for the role wants to add a couple of things based on recent experience. “Get me someone who can do pivot tables in Excel as good as Elizabeth does”.

Right. Let me just add that specific item to the spec and we’ll have everything we need.

The phone rings. “Did I tell you I want a team player? Someone who will see when the others’ might be a little behind and will just step in and help?”

Got it. Team Player. Excel Wizard. Observant of others and willing to do their work. All the while I’m thinking to myself  “What are you going to do when this new superstar realizes that she is better than anyone here, including her new boss?”

“And one more thing,” the hiring manager has another idea to layer on. “Not too ambitious. I need someone who will be satisfied in the same role for 5 or 6 years.”

That’s the paradox I see way too often. Managers who want to hire people who will do everything at the best level possible, and will be happy to linger for a good 15% of their career making life easy for the leader.

It does happen. If the environment is right and the employee is one who sees work as a means to an end. They have a great family life and social life and an aspiration to focus their personal development on their family, their hobbies, or their favorite personal cause. Work is something you do, and you might as well do it well. They’re rare gems, and sometimes when we get them, we try and convince them that they should want more out of work.

When I get a chance to hire these people, the ones that will bring their best every day and don’t want to be a director, VP, or even a team leader, I hire them. They are a balance to the team. They are continuity. They don’t hold on to “the way we always do things”, but they are part of the ever changing way in which we do things. Continuous Improvement. That’s where they get their satisfaction at work. Brave enough to eliminate their own tasks, because they know we’ll give them more and different work to do.

Reliable. Predictable. But not machines. Thinking. Human. Beings. The best hires I ever made.

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