Is there something you've always meant to do, wanted to do, but just ... haven't? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.
One question I get the most is, “Should we hire from the inside or the outside?” I think that hiring from within is ideal, but I’ve also seen hiring from within go awry.
If you’ve seen the movie Deliverance, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that constant inbreeding can cause some serious trouble.
The point is that hiring from within is excellent when it’s the right choice, but I’d advise you to be intentional about your vetting process before making that decision.
Am I hiring internally or promoting this person?
There’s a difference between hiring internally and promoting someone. Hiring internally means that you are shifting someone already on your team from one position to another. Promoting someone is elevating them in role and responsibility from one role to another.
It’s important that both you and your team are on the same page about if it’s an internal hire verses a promotion. Otherwise, you could be setting up both the team and the employee with false expectations.
- Are you shifting this person to another team when you should be shifting them off the team?
I see too many leaders play the shuffle game where they shuffle an underperforming employee to another team when they should really be transitioning them out of the company. The firing conversation is never easy, but it’s necessary if an underperforming employee is slowing you down or hurting your culture.
I’m a big fan of collaborative hiring processes when hiring from both the inside and the outside. When considering an internal hire, assess peer reviews and annual reviews of the employee. You have the advantage of having a lot of helpful data on the employee that you wouldn’t have on external hires. Just like you would do background and reference checks on an external hire, do your due diligence on internal hires as well.
- Have I vetted this employee properly against top talent?
You should internally hire a team member because they are the best person for the role. One of the best ways to find out if they are or not is to do a public, nationwide search and see how the internal candidate stacks against other candidates. Our firm is often hired to vet an internal candidate against outside talent so the organization can see how their current team member measures up. It helps give both you and the internal candidate peace of mind that they are the best fit for the role.
- Did you approach the team member or did they approach you?
I’m a big fan of going live with a public search before you approach an internal candidate because I like to see if the internal candidate comes forth with interest in the role. It shows me that the candidate sees what I see in them, has confidence in the value they bring to the team, and has the gumption to make things happen versus letting opportunities fall in their lap. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t approach an employee about an opportunity if you think they’re a good fit, but I do think you can learn a lot from allowing the employee the chance to come to you first.
- Are my expectations for success in this role clear?
I’ve recently internally hired for a couple of positions on my team after completing a nationwide search. One thing I’ve found to work well for both my team and the employee is giving a “90 Day One Way Ramp.” We set the expectation that once the employee takes the new job internally, they won’t have the chance to go back to their old job. This addresses any thinking that they can always get their old job back if they fail in the new role. It raises the stakes for both the employee and the team leader that they have 90 days to show that they’re the right fit for the role.
Hiring is an art, not a science. And while there’s not a formula for deciding if an internal or external hire is best, I hope these questions help you decide what’s best for your team.
It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch.
Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.
Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with our own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, We have observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.
The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world are:
- They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.
- They commit to continually bettering themselves.
- They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways
- They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.
- They embrace critique.
They spread what they know.
They uplift others as they ascend.
They view the journey as the goal.
They use their power and influence well.
Now go out and impact the world!
When talking about their careers, there are two stories I often hear women telling themselves:
- “Unless I figure out the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, I’m going to be miserable.”
- “I’ve invested so much time striving to be successful in this industry, if I transition to something else it’ll have all been for nothing.”
Women (and men) often feel an urgency to find their ‘one thing.’ Or, they stay in the same industry longer than they’d like because they feel obligated or stuck. To discuss finding purpose and getting unstuck I talked with Nicole Antoinette, the host of the Real Talk Radio podcast. Antoinette is a self-described “recovering self help addict” and a queen of reinvention.
With a resume that includes highlights such as camp director, owner of a web design firm, goal setting coach, and cookie shop owner, Antoinette says the theme of her career has been change.
This is a dramatic juxtaposition to her husband, an engineer at Twitter whose path has been pretty linear. She says, “He’s taken the more traditional or ‘recommended’ path that was put on a pedestal when I was younger: pick your thing and become really good at your thing.”
Around the time she turned 30, Antoinette struggled with shame and guilt that she hadn’t found her ‘one thing’ like her partner. Without her ‘one thing’ all the choices she had made in her 20s felt like a waste. She asked herself, “What’s wrong with me that I’ve had all of these seemingly unrelated careers?”
Paths Aren’t Always Linear, But Skills Are Transferable
Antoinette felt badly about this pattern of behavior until she had a realization. “The model of pick one thing, get better and better at that thing, and always be continually interested in that thing is actually pretty rare.” Stories of achieving greatness through perseverance in the same profession (picture Michael Phelps) are the ones celebrated in the media, she argues, which causes us to falsely believe that kind of career consistency is the norm.
In addition to craving an idealized ’one thing’, people are reluctant to lose all the opportunities they’ve created for themselves in their industry. Antoinette, who’s had at least 4 careers already, says if you go to do something else, all the experience, skills, and relationships you’ve developed come with you. “ It’s not like you leave a job or an industry and someone comes and ‘Men in Blacks’ your brain ,” she explains referencing the memory erasing technology from the popular film series.
For example, the same organization and communication skills that made her a good camp director were a tremendous asset when she ran her own business. As I started my consulting practice, a woman I’d met in my last role, managing a political campaign, became my first client.
Ask Yourself Good Questions
When it comes to her own transitions, Antoinette says the best advice she’s ever gotten is to ask yourself good questions, such as:
- What’s something you’ve been told is really important that actually isn’t important to you?
- What are you willing to give up?
- What’s true for you that you’ve been denying?
Referencing her own experience, Antoinette says, “If you’re actually willing to go back and ask yourself again and again, eventually you just get sick of yourself,” and get to the answer.
Asking herself those questions relentlessly, she realized she didn’t care about having a big flashy career. She says it took all of her 20s to accept that a “capital C Career” wasn’t important to her. She challenged the idea that there was a finite destination to reach, and she’s not looking back. Or as she says,“F*ck, I’m so much happier now.”
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or decades in, consider giving yourself permission to explore what kind of work is fulfilling rather than searching frantically for your ‘one thing’. Who knows, maybe cookie shop owner is in your future.
The human brain is hardwired to judge. This survival mechanism makes it very hard to meet someone without evaluating and interpreting their behavior.
While we tend to think that our judgments are based on the content of conversations and other obvious behaviors, the research says otherwise. In fact, the majority of our judgments are focused on smaller, subtler things, such as handshakes and body language. We often form complete opinions about people based solely on these behaviors.
We are so good at judging other people’s personalities based on small things that, in a University of Kansas study, subjects accurately predicted people’s personality traits, such as extroversion/introversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, simply by looking at pictures of the shoes they wore.
Our unconscious behaviors have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. These behaviors have likely become an integral part of who you are, and if you don’t spend much time thinking about them, now is a good time to start, because they could be sabotaging your career.
How you treat waiters and receptionists. How you treat support staff is so indicative of your makeup that it has become a common interview tactic. By gauging how you interact with support staff on your way in and out of the building, interviewers get a sense for how you treat people in general. Most people act the part when they’re speaking to the hiring manager or other “important” people, but some will pull a Jekyll and Hyde act the moment they walk out the door, treating others with disdain or indifference. Business lunches are another place this comes to light. No matter how nice you are to the people you have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witness you behaving badly toward others.
How often you check your phone. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone pulling out their phone mid-conversation. Doing so conveys a lack of respect, attention, listening skills, and willpower. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s wise to keep your phone holstered. A study from Elon University confirms that pulling out your phone during a conversation lowers both the quality and quantity of face-to-face interactions.
Repetitive, nervous habits. Touching your nails or face or picking at your skin typically indicates that you’re nervous, overwhelmed, and not in control. Research from the University of Michigan suggests that these nervous habits are indicative of a perfectionistic personality, and that perfectionists are more likely to engage in these habits when they’re frustrated or bored.
How long you take to ask questions. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talked about themselves the entire time? The amount of time someone allows to pass before they take an interest in you is a strong personality indicator. People who only talk about themselves tend to be loud, self-absorbed “takers.” People who only ask questions and share little about themselves are usually quiet, humble “givers.” Those who strike a nice balance of give-and-take are reciprocators and good conversationalists.
Your handshake. It’s common for people to associate a weak handshake with a lack of confidence and an overall lackadaisical attitude. A study at the University of Alabama showed that, although it isn’t safe to draw assumptions about someone’s competence based on their handshake, you can accurately identify personality traits. Specifically, the study found that a firm handshake equates with being less shy, less neurotic, and more extroverted.
Tardiness. Showing up late leads people to think that you lack respect and tend to procrastinate, as well as being lazy or disinterested. Contrary to these perceptions, a San Diego State University study by Jeff Conte revealed that tardiness is typically seen in people who multitask, or are high in relaxed, Type B personality traits. Conte’s study found that Type B individuals are often late because they experience time more slowly than the rest of us. Bottom line here is not to read too much into people showing up late. It’s better to ask what’s behind it than to make assumptions.
Eye contact. The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100% of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed. Studies show that maintaining eye contact for roughly 60% of a conversation strikes the right balance and makes you come across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.
Bringing It All Together
Sometimes the little things in life make a big difference. It’s good to be ready for them, so that you can make a strong impression.
What other behaviors yield insight into people’s personalities? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to your performance at work. TalentSmart has tested the EQ of more than a million people and found that it explains 58% of success in all types of jobs.
People with high EQs make $29,000 more annually than people with low EQs. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs, and a single-point increase in your EQ adds $1,300 to your salary. I could go on and on.
Suffice it to say, emotional intelligence is a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results.
But there’s a catch. Emotional intelligence won’t do a thing for you if you aren’t genuine.
A recent study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washingtonfound that people don’t accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value. They’re too skeptical for that. They don’t just want to see signs of emotional intelligence. They want to know that it’s genuine—that your emotions are authentic.
According to lead researcher Christina Fong, when it comes to your coworkers,
“They are not just mindless automatons. They think about the emotions they see and care whether they are sincere or manipulative.”
The same study found that sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.
It’s not enough to just go through the motions, trying to demonstrate qualities that are associated with emotional intelligence. You have to be genuine.
You can do a gut check to find out how genuine you are by comparing your own behavior to that of people who are highly genuine. Consider the hallmarks of genuine people and see how you stack up.
“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.”
–Janet Louise Stephenson
Unicorns are hard to catch. Back in the 1500s, it was believed that only fair young maidens could gain the trust of these elusive, horned creatures.
I’m no fair maiden. Still, in my time, I’ve had the luck of getting close to many magical unicorns … in the form of “unicorn” employees. Not to be confused with unicorn companies—startups valued at $1 billion or more—“unicorn” employees, for me, are staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace. To name a few, they shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level.
Whether you’re looking to build a unicorn army, or hoping to boost your own value in the workplace, here are the five key qualities of unicorn employees:
You aren’t limited by your job title.
In the span of about 5 years, my company, Hootsuite, went from a 100-person tech startup to a 1000-person global company. Through this stage of “hyper growth,” employees who truly flourished were flexible and intellectually curious.
Earlier on in the business, this meant having the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied tasks, critical at a fast-growing startup. For example, just because somebody’s job title was “Office Administrator,” didn’t mean she would shy away from pitching in on a major marketing campaign by helping brainstorm some catchy tweets.
Later, as the company grew, unicorn employees jumped at the chance to dive deeper into specific, growing areas of business, which needed good people. Some even decided to move across several departments. I saw unicorn employees make surprising leaps—one even went from financial specialist to software engineer. I think this is so important to employee growth that we recently launched a new pilot initiative, called the “stretch program,” to help people expand their knowledge and expertise across the business ... and grow their unicorn horns.
You think big and small.
Exceptional employees are able to think strategically. This means having the ability to take a step back and see the overall company goals, or the industry as a whole, then apply it to your work. To be effective in business, you must be able to see the big picture.
On the flipside, while big-picture thinking is critical, I’ve also found that the best employees also know the devil is in the details. Running a business requires meticulous attention. A minor copyright issue, improperly executed email campaign, or even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up being catastrophic, affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. The best employees are those who take the time to read the fine print. These are the types of people I know I can entrust with serious responsibility.
You have true grit.
The concept of “grit” has made its way into popular culture recently, perhaps sparked by psychologist Angela Duckworth’s popular TED talk and book, on the subject. She defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” and says it’s a crucial factor to achieving success.
I couldn’t agree more. Being an entrepreneur since I was a teenager, I’ve learned that the business world is like being on a boat in the open sea. Whether it’s a patch of rough waves or an unexpected storm, unexpected obstacles are inevitable. During these turbulent times, having grit—a dogged persistence—can help you keep focused on the destination. In fact, that very outlook helped my billion-dollar company weather the storm and get to the next level. Unicorn employees have true grit, and are able stay calm and focused on the task at hand, even on choppy seas.
You’re respectful by nature.
The ability to work well with others is a skill that benefits any workplace. It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised.
A few years ago, I put out a job posting for a high-level sales role. Many people applied, and after a series of interviews, I had some top candidates in mind. However, when I checked in with my executive assistant at the time, I was shocked to find out how many of those people who had been personable and courteous to me, had been downright rude to her.
Unicorn employees are respectful by nature, and would never treat someone—regardless of title —in this way. It’s something that absolutely sets a stellar employee apart from an average one. In fact, this is so important to the well-being of our staff, it’s been built into two of our four core company values: “Respect the individual,” and “lead with humility.”
You get it done.
A few years back, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sent out a short status update on his platform: “In simplest terms possible, the people I most enjoy working with dream big, get it done, and know how to have fun.”
The update blew up, striking a chord with the tens of thousands of people who commented and liked it. (Weiner followed up by writing a full post on the topic.) Like him, I too am a huge proponent of having fun at work and believe it’s crucial to success. However, I can’t stress how important it is for people on the job to be able to get shit done. After all, no matter how great a co-worker is to be around, if he can’t produce actual results, his presence is isn’t ultimately helpful and may even be damaging to others. Great teams can be shattered by a single member who can’t get shit done.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that top performers contribute to a business 10 times more than their average counterparts. In fact, some firms, including Microsoft, claim that figure to be 100 times.
The bottom line: At the end of the day, you can be respectful, multi-talented, tenacious, detail-oriented and a big thinker. But if you don’t produce real results and move the needle, all those traits are wasted. You must be able to execute. It’s an essential unicorn quality.
For companies and business leaders, it’s probably worthwhile to put some extra time and effort into chasing unicorns. Unlike their mythical counterparts, they’re very real and they can change your company. And for unicorn employees in the making, it’s never too late to grow your strengths and make yourself more rare and valuable than ever.
CEO @ HootSuite
Image: Evonne Heyning
Celebrating 21 years in the Wine Industry
There’s two things you need to know, right off the bat, about these hiring criteria.
First and most obviously, the six criteria on Danny’s list are psychological traits, not technical skills. Even though it is generally easier to hire for technical skills, whether they are knife skills in the kitchen, great customer-centric leaders like Meyer feel confident that they can teach technical know-how to almost any newly-hired employee, but on the other hand find the idea of teaching empathy, teaching work ethic and so forth to be essentially a fool’s errand, much better addressed in the selection process than in post-employment training and discipline.
The second point is this: Even though you’ll be hiring for personality traits rather than technical skills, you still need to develop highly-skilled employees before they even face the first customer. Otherwise, you’re doing your customers (and your company) a huge disservice.
Meyer: “I used to think that you could just hire people for their emotional skills and if they had the six essential emotional skills, that’s all it took. I learned the hard way that you can’t unleash somebody’s hospitality unless you have first completely drilled all the systems, the technical skills and know-how that are needed, to a point of excellence.”
In other words: These wonderful, warm personality traits that you have hired your new employees for aren’t going to manifest themselves in ways that are useful to your customers until the training for skills is complete and has become second nature.
Meyer compares this to learning to drive a stick shift.
I remember when I first learned to drive a stick shift [as a teenager back in St. Louis], I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And until I had learned to be proficient at doing that, I wasn’t having any fun while I was driving. I wasn’t switching the stations on the radio dial. I wasn’t telling jokes to my friends. I wasn’t pointing out the beautiful trees on the side of the road.
At that beginner’s stage, I was “all systems all the time.” But once I learned those systems, how to shift gears, find a sticking point when I was on a hill, all those kinds to things that are really taught. Once I cleared all that out, that’s when I could get back to being myself and pick the best music for whoever was in the car, tell jokes with people, you know, enjoy the scenery.
So even though the emotional skills that lead to hospitality are not really teachable, but they are also not revealable until first you’ve learned the systems, the technical side of getting the job done.”
Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants hire for what Meyer calls an employee’s “hospitality quotient.” These are the six traits he feels are required for an employee to have the potential to provide true hospitality to the guests of his restaurants.
Here’s his list of six traits to hire for, which I’m using here with his permission and hope you find useful.
1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);
2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);
3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);
4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)
5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick;
6. Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).
Looking for Work? The Wrong Way to Get Your Job Application Noticed
In a hyper-competitive job market, some people looking for work will do whatever it takes to stand out. There was the student who designed a Lego set in an attempt to land an ad agency internship.
A graphic designer slapped his resume on a four-pack of home-brewed beer. And more than one desperate job seeker has donned a sandwich board in an attempt to find work.
These job hunting stunts might capture the media’s attention, but do they actually lead to job offers?
In some cases, yes. Brennan Gleason, the man behind the “résum-ale,” as he dubbed it, quickly landed a job as a creative director for a digital marketing agency with the help of his one-of-a-kind C.V. But quirky job hunting approaches don’t always yield quick results.
It took Dan Conway, aka the Extreme Job Hunter, a year to find work, despite engaging in stunts like auctioning himself off on eBay and sending pizza to potential employers.
Outlandish job search techniques are more common, and may be more effective, when the applicant is in a creative field like marketing and design, perhaps because they’re a way for people to show off their skills to potential employers. Leah Bowman, the student behind the Lego resume, told Careertopia that, “For most companies, this type of application might even cross the line to inappropriate.
For advertising agencies, however, I felt that showing my creativity and personality would be an asset.” But even designers and marketing pros should proceed with caution; one quarter of executives in this field surveyed by The Creative Group said gimmicky resumes were unprofessional.
Still, job hunters in all fields are under pressure to get noticed by hiring managers, who are often inundated with resumes for every job posted. The competition can inspire some desperate moves. While the instinct to make yourself stand out isn’t a bad one, some applicants take it too far, engaging in bizarre behavior than can torpedo their chances of getting the job.
“Candidates are realizing that an extraordinary cover letter and resume with strong references aren’t enough, that if you really want the gig, you have to stand out from the competition,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said. “Unfortunately, what many aren’t realizing is that the catch is making sure you do that in a professional, respectful way.”
Overzealous job seekers don’t always realize there’s a fine line between the charmingly creative job application strategy and the wildly inappropriate. Hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder shared stories of candidates who took an out-of-the-box approach to getting noticed, including:
What is it about looking for work that inspires people to act in a way that seems designed to turn off hiring managers? Alison Green, an HR expert, blames the “charlatans of the job search advice world, telling people they need to ‘stand out’ and be ‘memorable.’”
The creative job application gone wrong. How to rise above....
Candidates who want to rise above the pack might decide it’s a good idea to mail a cake and a framed picture of themselves to a hiring manager (as one candidate did to a reader of Green’s Ask a Manager blog), but such brazen moves can backfire. “I was so incredibly creeped out by this gesture … I was afraid to eat the cake and couldn’t look at him and didn’t even call him for an interview,” the receiver of this unique “gift” recounted.
Those looking for work would do better to focus on substance rather than sizzle when trying to impress a would-be employer, say most career experts.
A strong resume that outlines past accomplishments and clearly shows how your past experience relates to the position you want is a must, according to CareerBuilder. (And remember, only Elle Woods can get away with a scented resume on pink paper.)
A robust social media presence that shows you’re an expert in your field can be an advantage when an employers searches for you after receiving your resume.
During the face-to-face portion of the hiring process, steer clear of common interview mistakes and take the time to ask a few questions of your own, since this shows you’re interested in the job.
Finally, don’t forget to send a thank you note. Many applicants overlook this basic gesture, even though 59% of hiring managers say a thank you note or email after an interview can boost a person’s chances of being receiving a job offer.
And if you’re tempted to send a potential employer a shoe to “get your foot in the door,” remember this: Though gimmicky tactics might get a hiring manager’s attention, it’s ultimately your skills and experience that will land you the job.
Yes, I hear you complain about them every day: Those millennials, they ask about vacation time in the first interview! They get a bad cold and disappear for days!
They want my job after a week in their job!
“Who do these upstarts think they are,” you moan to me over every business lunch.
I feel your pain—but question your premise. Sure, there are tons of indolent slackers lounging in their parents’ rec rooms and some of them should stay there because they make terrible employees. But don’t dismiss the generation; just take some hiring and management precautions. Here are six steps to weeding out the duds and finding the eager hard-chargers who’ll stick around, build your business and make you look good.
I used to mince words with prospective employees. In my lexicon, senior people with monstrous egos that needed to be not only tolerated but massaged were referred to as “challenging” or “difficult.”
I’m not polite any more.
I tell the prospective employee that the wine industry marketing environments, for an example can be hard to work in. I also tell them I don’t allow screaming, yelling, throwing things ain the organizations they may work in.…but those “difficult” people will still find ways to torture you. (I don’t, of course tell them that back in the day, at X Winery, one of the Sr. Marketing VP threw a box of yellow Kleenex at a friend of mine saying, “Don’t come back until these are white!”) I also tell them that the WIne Marketing business is a somewhat stagnant business right now. Several tiers of the job ladder have been eliminated and now there are only assistants and senior brand managers. Where I used to have five mid-level jobs to promote assistants into, I now only have one. I tell them it can take four years instead of two to advance. If they are still sitting in the chair across from me when I’m finished with this non-seduction, I figure they must really want the job.
2. Don’t hire them if you sense even a whiff of entitlement. I tell every prospective employee that they will be gofers for the first two years (that means chores like packing wine and POS for various events) even if they won’t be. When one young man who wanted to be a brand manager said, “But my university led me to believe…,” I said, “Stop right there. No one cares what your college led you to believe. They only care if you can use a copy machine and answer phones. That is how we all started.” No surprise: Our discussions ended there.
3. Do a hunger check. For a big part of my career, my assistant’s chair was held by a revolving door of fill in the blank recent top 10 University Grad . I wasn’t looking for a University Grad; it’s not as if I graduated from any of these schools or wanted to do something for my alma mater. It just so happened that at the time, these smart, heads-down kinds of people worked perfectly in the male dominated wine industry. Later on I tried out grads from other Ivies, but after going several rounds with Harvard kids who embarrassed me with their sloppy, “I’m above all this” office work, I put a moratorium on Harvard diplomas. (See, you don’t have to be a millennial to feel entitled.) I feel the same way today: The hardest-working, most attentive, most intelligent starters still come from schools with un-fancy names. They’re millennials, for sure, but not slackers. I have come to believe that America’s top-tier schools are doing their graduates a disservice by boosting their expectations about starter jobs. Entry level is the great flattener of the working world.
4. Remember, everyone announces themselves in the interview.
I learned this the hard way when I ignored my gut response and hired a young woman who made me feel uncomfortable in the interview. She startled me during our first discussion when she suddenly asked intimate questions about my children. Turns out that in preparing for the interview she had done something smart: She’d gone back and read all of my editor’s letters, in which I’d written often about my kids. But she didn’t explain that in the interview, leaving me to feel she’d snooped in a creepy way, which made me squirm a bit. But I hired her. Our entire time together (less than a year) was marred because she constantly tried to front run my desires and fumbled them; she couldn’t wait for direction.
5. Shake ‘em up a bit. Ok, so I’ve worked with some of the scariest people in wine—and made it through. While some people are just mean and awful because they can be, I’ve carved out a spot as a pretty nice person who is tough but fair. But every now and then, especially when working with the overly pampered (millennial or otherwise), I find it’s a good idea to borrow a trick from the monster-boss playbook and send a tiny chill down their spine. I am a little sterner than I would normally be; I play the tough parent who won’t put up with the crap they just handed me. I let them know I set a high bar and plan for them to jump high enough to clear it.
6. When you find the good ones, help them move up—even if that means losing them. Yes, I said that. When you find those great millennials, be generous. Part the waters for them, give them perks, jump into their court and use your influence to move them along to the next tier when it’s time—even if the better job is not in your winery and it kills you to lose them. That’s how you win their loyalty. Forever. And you just may be nurturing an employee who’ll come back to you years later.