In Search of a Great Employee

You’re only as good as the people you hire.
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I just can’t seem to find anyone who wants to work 70 hours a week for 40 hours pay and be on call when I need them on weekends!

I want to hire:

  • someone who picks up a book or searches the Internet when they have a problem instead of bothering me by asking questions
  • someone who is preemptive in solving customer problems, rather than reactive; someone committed to quality and customer service
  • someone who is still excited about growing and learning as a person

People tell me my expectations are too high; I think theirs are too low.

I don’t care if a prospective employee finished high school or college since I didn’t either. I’d say that puts just about everybody in the ball game. For most positions, I don’t care what experience they have had. Lots of people with twenty years’ experience only experienced the same year twenty times; it’s not like they kept reading, learning, and growing. Most golf club managers I meet are scared of computers. This severely limits their potential to do a great job. A simple night class at the local community college would fix the problem, as would hiring a personal computer trainer (anyone over 12) to help them out for two or three Saturday mornings. You see my point.

I’m not interested in resumes either—waste of paper. Most of them are works of fiction when it comes right down to it. “Experienced in Photoshop” can mean just about anything from they can do the cover of Time magazine on their own to they are really good at drawing stick men.

Have you ever seen resumes where the applicants say they are not great communicators but work well as members of a team? The only place my eleven employees in California acted like a team was passing the check around the table to me at our Monday-night pregame staff meeting at Daly’s sports bar!

Maybe it’s just me, but in the three years I worked as bag boy at a golf club when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I never ever showed up for work even a minute late or called in sick, despite making a heady $3.25 an hour. (Actually, the first nine months I worked 40–50 hours a week free in exchange for rounds of golf.) One of my current six employees is late for our staff meeting every day. The traffic on Rural Route 44 is just hell!

Maybe it’s just unreasonable to expect that an employee might spend $20 of his or her own money on a book to improve skills in any given area; heck, I’d be glad to pay for it if they asked. That’s all I really want in an employee: initiative and a little enthusiasm. I want someone who says I didn’t know how to do this so I bought a book, enrolled in a course, or asked a friend to help because he happens to be good at this sort of problem. I want someone who looks for ways to improve the process instead of just punching in and out everyday. I want someone with the focus and commitment to stay with a job and finish it on time, even if it means taking it home with them.
In return for living up to my standards, I pay pretty well, I am flexible about vacations and time off, and we will name a fish in the koi pond after you. I mean, how many companies offer their employees perks like that?

It saves a lot of heartache to be clear and honest about what life at your company is like and what your expectations really are, even if it scares some good people away.

Employees rise to meet expectations—set yours high.

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