On Tuesday, I had lunch with two friends. Marilyn was serving our table. At one point, I completely lost the thread of our table conversation because I was watching her interact with another table. Marilyn was laughing so hard, she looked like she was going to cry. So was the rest of the table. Later when we turned down the chocolate cake suggestion, Marilyn’s response, with a completely deadpan look on her face, except for the twinkle in her eyes, was “Have the carrot cake then. It’s a vegetable.”
Marilyn was wonderful. Would she have been for every restaurant? Probably not. Some restaurants are more formal. Friendly professionalism is always expected but off-the-cuff jokes and roars of laughter are not appreciated. And it’s not just that Marilyn may not be a fit for that type of restaurant; that type of restaurant may not be a fit for Marilyn.
As employers, too often, we haven’t clearly defined who our ideal employee is. Most of us know that attitude is much more important than experience. Skills can be taught; attitude not so much. But it goes deeper than that. As in my example above, friendly professionalism looks different at different businesses. If you and your customers expect a more formal approach to service, someone like Marilyn may not be a good fit.
Take the time to think about your company culture, your customer’s expectations and then come up with three or four words or phrases to describe the person you believe will more easily integrate into your company and connect with your customer’s in a meaningful way.
These words and phrases can then be used during the recruitment and hiring process. There will be some people who automatically disqualify themselves from the process when they see or hear those words and that’s OK. It’s better for them and for you to know up front they are not comfortable with the role. On the plus side, there will be some who eagerly jump in because you have just described them.
Having a deep understanding of your ideal employee is necessary in order to recruit and hire people who will fit the culture. Hiring someone who isn’t the right fit isn’t good for your business, your team or the new hire. After all, it’s not about filling a role; it’s about filling a role with the right person.