April 22, 2014

Attitude or Skills: Which Employee Is Right For You?

By Paul Bieber

Two identical twins walk into a bar… Wait a minute, that is another story.

Two identical twins apply for work at your glass shop.  At least, they look exactly the same.  But the semblance stops there.  You had placed an ad for a glazier to join your company.  Experience preferred, but not required, and able to work flexible hours.  Tim has worked for three years at John Doe’s Glass Company as an auto glass installer.  Tom has one year’s experience at a glass shop installing storefronts and low-rise curtainwall, your specialty along with auto glass.  Both are honest and have good references.

Have you made up your mind yet?  I haven’t so far. 

So, you ask each one back for a second interview, asking each one the same questions, and you are still stumped.  You wish you could hire both, but you only have one position open in your five-man company.  So, you ask your foreman, Tony, to come in at the end of each interview and spend 10 minutes with each one.  You agree that both are good, but Tony helps you summarize your thoughts when he tell you that Tim’s strength is his positive work attitude, and Tom’s strength is his experience in the field.

Which one?

OK, there is no right answer yet.  The path to the answer is deciding which type of company you are.  Do you retain people for a long time or do you have rapid turn-over?  Does Tony train his new installers?  Do your men go out individually, or do you always send a team?

The answer then, whether to hire Tim or Tom, is what type of company are you, not which twin has the best skills.  You have an opening, and you want to fill it and get back to full speed ASAP, but stop thinking about next week.  When you hire, think about next year!  Will Tim or Tom still be with you?  Will Tim or Tom be a good addition to your team or a disrupter?

So, I have revealed my choice; I would always take the one with the better attitude, in this case Tim.  Even though he will hit the ground more slowly and require more training, Tim is the team player.  Unless you are hiring a specific talent, such as a degreed engineer in a specialized field, I always recommend the team player.  Attitude will please your customers.  Let Tony follow up on his training and check his installs until Tim knows your jobs. 

Ask yourself: If Tim or Tom could ever grow into a foreman’s role, which one is a natural leader and ask which twin will cause you more grief?  To me, then, Tim is the man. 

When you run into me, ask about the time that Tim and Tom walked into the bar.  It is a great story!