Have you ever had employee that you just couldn’t make happy? I have. I have had employees complain about everything from pay rate to the brand of coffee we serve in the kitchen. I have tried bonuses, accolades, and free lunches, but at the end of the day some people find the negative in everything.
I have been personally involved in hiring for three companies now, and as I venture into a new deal and face the prospect of hiring en mass again, I find myself reflecting on what makes a good hire and what makes a bad one. In my experience, people who have faced adversity are the ones you want on your team. The guys and girls who do the best are not the ones that started out there. They had to take the journey. They have a deep appreciation for life and that subsequently compels them to do better. The desire to wind up in a better place than they came from creates an energy that propels them forward.
I had a friend in college who was a wonderful, very intelligent guy. He is motivated and hard working, but he grew up with something that I call “champagne taste”. Everything was always handed to him. Now, a few decades into our careers I have noticed that he has a hard time to relating to people that exist outside of his small, southern California bubble. This guy is talented and driven, but his lack of perspective has held him back.
I am not the only one to have noticed this phenomenon. Last week I spend some time with Fiji owner and career entrepreneur, Stewart Resnick. Not many people know this, but he started as a janitor. Today, his net worth is just shy of 4 billion. Stewart also had a story about a friend from college who was so “well-to-do”, that he didn’t want to do entry-level work. He had no desire to put work into a foundation that would later help him climb higher and higher. Today he his successful, but not lucratively so like Stewart is.
Now, I am not here to say that anyone born into privilege is destined for middle management – I am just imploring the people, and especially the parents among us, to consider perspective when it comes to hiring, managing, and raising our children. If someone has only ever had fillet mignon, everything else tastes like crap, but if someone grows up eating rice and beans, or wonder bread, everything else will taste amazing.
Adversity can be manufactured, but it cannot be absent. Create an environment in which the job you provide isn’t nearly as hard as something your employees have faced before, and you will never hear a complaint about the coffee again.