Enthusiasm! Do you hire for it? You should, at least according to Alan Weiss, of Summit Consulting. In his most recent newsletter he relates the story of an exceptional waiter named Mike, who as Alan says “…generally led us through dinner the way Toscanini led the orchestra through Beethoven’s Fifth.” In Alan’s opinion “You can’t teach what Mike has, which is sheer zeal and talent for the job.” This experience, and others like it, have lead Alan to offer the following advice to his many clients “… hire enthusiasm and teach the content of their business, not to hire content experts who aren’t naturally enthusiastic, thinking either they can be taught enthusiasm or the content expertise will suffice.”
Alan’s experience mirrors my own. Interactions with employees are enthusiastic about their jobs makes the experience all that much more pleasant, regardless of the business. I have met and interacted with employees who are enthusiastic about serving burgers, changing tires, helping me figure out a mobile phone problem, sell me furniture, help me select the lighting fixtures for my new house, and launder my shirts. It is a key attribute. Now I might like to hire a combination of enthusiasm and content expertise, but I would be inclined to take enthusiasm first.
I think enthusiasm comes from someone viewing their job as important and relevant. I used to have an employee in my plant who cleaned the floors and mowed the grass. He was always whistling and working hard. I asked him why one day and he told me he had the most important job in the company. I asked how he figured that and he told me “No one could work if the place was not clean and the neighbors would be unhappy if he did not mow.” Is this what we are discussing when we talk about employee engagement. Perhaps so…
Alan concludes with this..”Enthusiasm is infectious. Are you the kind of person whom others want to be around because you generate excitement and interest, no matter what your job or your calling? After working with you, would I want to work with you again, let alone give the equivalent of a $300 tip?” I will echo that. Are you? Do you hire people that generate excitment? If not, why not.
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