Getting It Right
I came across this photo today and I started reflecting on how important it is to think through all the little details on things. Seems to me that would be what you want in an employee, so that things like what you see here don't happen. But the problem is that those employees are often not the noisy guys and so you don't know who they are.
Who was responsible for the Starbucks error above? The art director? The person who bought the vans? The person who painted the vans? The person who left the door open? All of the above/none of the above?
If someone was bright enough to realize this would happen and made the necessary changes, s/he would be pretty clever indeed. It would be one of those quiet little acts of greatness that go unrecorded, unknown, unrewarded. It's most probably one of those precious smart employees that has their attention on doing a great job rather than building a great career.
Avoiding fiascoes and cleaning up after them has a lot to do with PR. How does that priceless PR employee who avoids fiascoes make himself known? How can you promote all the horrible fiascoes you've prevented? And from the hiring side, how can you tell the quiet great ones?
For starters, they're smart. They are detail oriented people who can still see the bigger picture. Things don't break around them. People don't get fired around them. They are quite interested in what they do -- interested enough to keep their attention focused on it and think things through. Often older (am I allowed to say that?) people have seen enough careless destruction to know where to look to make sure it doesn't happen again. So experience and exposure helps.
These are not things that you can see in a resume. In fact, they are qualities that are difficult to see in a personal interview. So at what point in the hiring process, after how many hours are spent interviewing wrong potential candidates, does someone decide if the candidate in front of them is the great one you want to hire?
The internet does wonderful things for us. It allows us to see scores of qualified resumes. But you usually don't hit pay dirt by hiring the best resume. The know how of hiring greats is a measure of skill, experience, art, awareness and sensitivity. The leaders who can do it build teams of quiet greatness and have that quality themselves.