Got a call this morning from a theatre manager who had just lost her front end/box office manager – and has a heavy show schedule in October. She’s going to have to scramble, do a lot of the work herself, and try to find someone who has experience, availability and the right personality to be a part of her team. No easy task.
I told her tongue in cheek, “Staffing will be the death of us!” I’m fortunate to have a majority of our staff that’s been with us for more than a few years. That gives a sense of stability to everyone – but right now, we’re shifting responsibilities for a few, had to let a new hire go a few weeks ago, and are always retooling and refining. And until the dust settles, we all feel it.
Last week, I followed some sessions from Inc Magazine (@incmagazine ) and #INC500 and the recurring theme was getting the staff right. It’s the thing that keeps us awake at night, can ruin a small business, or – when you get it right – makes a company hum along and seem easy to run.
I can’t say enough about personality and fit. We interviewed a few months ago for a sales position. After the initial screening of qualifications and job skills, I was given four names to do for the final “are they the right fit for us” interviews. It’s important to know who you are as a company and be comfortable with it.
Our office is very open, few walls or doors, and as a result, we collaborate all day long. We like it that way, but know it’s not for everyone. About 5 years ago, this lesson was learned with *Joe, whose background and experience drew us and we hired him knowing it wasn’t a good fit. I remember thinking, maybe we should cultivate a different atmosphere so people like Joe will fit in?
Joe was used to doors and a private office. He sat in our office at a 4-person cluster of desks with small dividers, about 8 inches high. Look up, and you’re looking straight at someone. Day one, he sat down, took out a microphone, and began to dictate his every move to his computer. “Open file.” “Compose email.” And all day long, confused looks from his co-workers – Are you talking to me or your computer?
He also had a rough time whenever the unavoidable “oh, *%&@” would slip out. We recognize that the staff who swears together, stays together…but Joe couldn’t get past it.
Good qualifications? Yep. Rock solid resume. Nice guy. Altogether wrong for us.
I learned a lot from that experience, and sadly, a few more – you have to know who you are and hire accordingly. I’m now very clear about it from the start and am saving both sides the hassle and grief of a poor fit.
More recently, Bobby walked into the ‘personality’ interview. I’d just finished one with a solid candidate who was so nice, but just knew it wasn’t right. Sigh. Bobby sat down (I kept thinking, wow, feels like I’m Jan or Marcia every time I say his name) – and when introduced to the coworker who was participating, said, “Your name is what? That’s my ex’s name!”
And then he started laughing. I told him, I think we should end the interview right now – there’s no way anyone should work right next to someone with the same (and very unusual) name as their ex! And then we all laughed. And I realized, probably going to hire this guy – if he can take that kind of an attitude with life. That wasn’t anything if not hilarious.
Staffing is a little bit of luck. A lot of sweat and tears. And a touch of magic. I’m admittedly a lucky one – we have a group of people who for the most part, would never hang out together – different interests (other than we have 2 DJs) – personalities – but with a few things in common. Egos are left at the door – and laughter gets you through a rough day.
Come in more than one day with a sad face, you’ll be called Grumpy Pants for sure. Come in just a little hungover, and someone’s going to yell real loud in your phone just for kicks. Ask Carla about the Urban Dictionary of the day. Miss a couple of days of work and expect to find your desktop jacked up with an image you didn’t choose.
But it works for us. We deal with deadlines day in and day out. Heavy competition in the sales market. An industry full of the urgent and right now. This is how we get it done.
It’s an old phrase, but I’m finally learning to go with my gut. Every time I don’t, I lose time, money, and a lot of peace of mind. By the way, we’re hiring now. And looking for just the right fit.