About six years ago I was hiring for Live Event coordinators. I had taken the events from 1100 to about 5000 at the time. There was no possible way I could continue to grow the events with the size team that I had.
(Yes that’s me courtesy of Lily Kreitinger. Well, not the hair, but certainly the body.)
I needed to hire some extremely talented folks to be able to take over the tasks required to take us to the next level, which eventually became 11,000 attendees. In the process I found an interesting theme with some of the potential candidates. As I would talk about the immense amount of responsibilities it took to pull off an arena event with thousands of people attending, there was a certain excitement that showed up from time to time.
Now, this wasn’t the excitement I later found in the incredible people that I hired. Instead, it was the excitement to save the day. As I would explain the position and what was required, I would hear the following from many of the candidates:
“I like the high pressure of events.”
“I like to be the one who is able to come in and fix the problems day of.”
“I’m great at putting out fires.”
Over and over I hear people telling me how great they are at fixing the problems day of the event. There’s only one problem with that, I don’t WANT any problems day of the event! I don’t need a hero. If there is a need for someone to swoop in like Spiderman to save the damsel in distress, then that means people are seeing an event that isn’t running as well oiled as I would like it to be!
It means that we have done a terrible job on the front end preparing for thousands of people to show up and have their lives changed. And if we’ve done that so poorly, then there are telltale signs all over that those attendees are able to see. Which means they are now distracted from the message they need to hear, and are focused on how badly we are running the event that we charged them for.
What I needed was team members who spent all of the front side time focused on doing everything possible to make the event experience incredible and flawless. I needed people that if they did their job right, none of the attendees knew they existed. If that happened, then our MAIN goal of presenting sensitive information in a potentially troubled personal time was accomplished.
My goal was to change lives, not allow someone to feel fulfilled by slacking off on the job so they could look like a hero day of the event. Thank God I was able to find people to help me do just that. People whose heart was to create an unforgettable experience for every attendee possible. And that’s what took us to over 11,000 attendees.
So the next time you’re hiring for a position, and the candidates’ sound more like super heroes looking for a place to land, you just might reconsider what it is you’re hiring for.
Question: What outcomes have you seen from hiring people with the wrong motivation?
80 thoughts on “I Don’t Need A Hero!”
Wow, this hit home! I experienced this, in a way, this spring. A new manager was hired at my company. He’s my manager, and as part of getting up to speed he came with me for the day to see what I do. While we were driving around he told me that he loved Spring, because he loved the rush of it, having to run from one thing to the next, solving problems and putting out the fires. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but in the following months I’ve noticed that its almost like he pushes things to that point, like it’s some sort of high. Everything happens last minute and in a rush now. It’s like he’s an adrenaline junkie who happens to be management…and MAN is it frustrating!!!
Anyways, there’s my experience….
@Skropp Yeeeeah, I worked for someone like that once. Whenever I saw an opportunity to make things easier, or be ahead of the game, and mentioned my idea to them, they would just look at me weird. I guess the “rush” was a good lesson in being very flexible 😉 (lookin at the bright side here)
@Laura Johnson Haha. Yup, that’s the bright side. The humorous part was his comment, not 10 seconds before, about liking to have things planned out a week in advance…ya, I haven’t ever seen THAT happen. Oh well, I just do my best to plan ahead and be ahead and try not to scream when it’s seemingly sabotaged 🙂
@Skropp @Laura been there too many times it seems. There are the folks that have you sign a job description and then ask “why are you spending your time on that?” when you follow it.
@Domerskee @Skropp @Laura Johnson I wonder if it’s a lack of conciquence that has them thinking that way. Or a massive need to be needed.
@ChrisLoCurto Maybe a bit of both…I remember when I put what he said together with what has happened it all clicked. I always want to say “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine…” but I don’t 🙂
@Skropp @ChrisLoCurto There are so many times I want to use that quote, Skropp. There is so much that can be learned from the University of Hard Knocks :).
@ChristianNick @ChrisLoCurto Haha. Ya, it’s very applicable in many situations. But dang it for my sense of responsibility, I can’t say that and let something go wrong if I can help the situation…
@Skropp @ChristianNick @ChrisLoCurto Very true! A blessing and a curse!
@Skropp @ChrisLoCurto Dude! That’s a fantastic quote! Can I use that one?
@Skropp @ChrisLoCurto “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine…” Awesome quote! Can I use that?
@ChristianNick I’m an IT guy and a while ago when several worms were propagating around the internet, I had a friend of mine brag that their 300 machines at their office were infected and “it only took 3 days to clean them all!” My response was that we stopped the infections before they started. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t impressed with them cleaning these machines in just 72 hours when it would take “normal humans” over a week to do so. My point was that it was better to prevent the injury in the first place than to “prove our worth to management.” Don’t get me wrong, one of my greatest assets (which is where I’ve earned my reputation over the years) is that I’m typically called in to a project/situation when it’s on its last legs ( when a datacenter/project is on fire ), but I ALWAYS would prefer to be there in the beginning to help my clients avoid these disasters in the first place.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve tried to teach my fellow IT people is that the best IT person you’ll ever have is the one that you think you don’t need. Mainly because they go out of their way to make sure that you NEVER see them. This is what I think the point Chris was making.
@LaytonWelborn I completely agree, Layton. I like what Dave Ramsey says when talking about decision making–make the decision, if you find out later it is wrong, make another decision to get back on the correct path. I am not one who enjoys the fires, I am a natural planner and want to think through things that could go wrong and avoid them. But when they do go wrong, I am going to learn and avoid it moving forward!
@LaytonWelborn @ChristianNick Well said Layton. The real work, the valuable work, is proactive. We need to be in that space most of the time! Wasn’t it ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that speaks to that a lot?
I know exactly what you mean, as the person I worked for said the main reason they couldn’t stay on top of issues was because they didn’t have someone to fill a position. Well, I filled that position. How do you let someone know the ultimate “probblem” is them? Is that even okay to do? And how sad is it when they know they’re the problem and could care less?
@ChrisLoCurto @Domerskee Or both.
Do you ever worry the person you work for might happen to read your comments on here?? 😉
@LaytonWelborn Your friend reminds me of someone I worked with. They would tell me they didn’t have the time to do all the prep work that would save them all that time; if they did, they would……huh.
@skottydog @ChrisLoCurto I robbed it from some little refrigerator magnet somewhere, so feel free…but I know you’ve already tweeted it, so my consent is pretty much ornamental, right? Like the queen of england…
@Laura Johnson @ChrisLoCurto I don’t, because my manager isn’t worried about personal development…but i think I’d worry if I was you 😉
YES! THE picture!! 🙂
@Laura Johnson Before reading the caption beneath it I said to myself, “Self, that has GOT to be Chris!!” haha
@Skropp @Laura Johnson Hahaha…yep, that’s me.
Your post reminds me of that story where a king was looking for a new carriage driver. His daily route took him up and down a steep mountain. Many prospects boasted how close they could drive to the edge and the king would still be safe because they were driving. The driver he hired said the king would be safe because he would drive as far away from the edge as possible.
@Laura Johnson That’s the guy I want as well!!!
@Laura Johnson I love that story! It takes someone that is confident in their abilities and doesn’t have to prove their competence to take that position.
@Laura Johnson Nice! I love this story.
I often wonder why people are content to be REactive to situations rather than PROactive. This may just be the main reason. I have begun to realize that somewhere along the line people have bought into the belief that “real leaders” aren’t doing their jobs or needed if they aren’t putting out fires.
I am more than happy to call the fire department for help if something goes bad. If I need the fire department every day there is a problem with me. Thanks for another thought provoker to start the day …
@Domerskee Amen! I’m not doing my job if I have fires!!
@Domerskee Haha I love that, calling the FD every day. Haha. I think it goes back to Chris’ reply to my comment, it makes them feel needed, and they need to be needed…
@Domerskee The only fire people should be engaging in everyday is the fire from within that motivates you to do your work. All the other fires are not contained and therefore hard to harness.
@CGreene801 Love how you said that! 🙂
Some people claim to not have time to be proactive, they have too much in their lives to react to. ….I would find that very frustrating and discouraging.
Proactive is the way to go!!
Wow, hiring someone with the wrong motivation. They are not out for the success of the group. They are usually more difficult to manage and create problems along the way. This is especially true on volunteer organizations. Why do they want to volunteer, or are they being forced to “volunteer?” I have had that occur. The person had a shared vision of the organization, but because they were being forced to volunteer, management of the overall group was much more difficult and time consuming when they were present because they distracted from the desired outcome.
@ChristianNick I like the connection between the wrong motivation and difficulty in managing. What’s that saying? It’s like herding cats? It’s impossible to manage when people don’t have the same motivation and therefore arent going in the same general direction! It’s also a detriment to the whole team because so much time has to be dedicated to that induvidual…
@Skropp @ChristianNick that is a hard learned lesson. If I had half the time back I have spent on coaching, documenting, and rehiring people who were not a fit to the job I’d probably feel a lot younger.
@ChristianNick “forced to volunteer”? That sounds like community service to me. Definitely NOT the right hire! “Why do you want to work here?” “Because my parole officer says I have to.” lol
What ways have you seen people forced into volunteer work? (Spouse, family?)
@skottydog It was a familial situation. Overall, the person was great to work with, but I could definitely tell they were there out of obligation.
What a great post (I can’t believe you used that photo)! It made me think that providing your attendees with a seamless experience where people stay “behind the scenes” has to be the hardest part of your job. It also made me think about many job descriptions I have read that include “managing multiple projects in a fast-paced environment to meet tight deadlines”… aka “you will be putting out fires consistently”.
In my latest job interview (which landed me a great job that starts next week!), the first thing the manager asked is “Why do you want this job?” My answer was “Because I know what your needs are and I have the skills and experience to help you”. I asked back “How would you describe your culture?” His response was “We get along well, get the job done, get to do cool things and feel proud of what we do. We are pretty laid back because our clients can be very intense” No mention of putting out fires, working around the clock or being able to meet impossible deadlines. Right there I knew we would be a good match. Being a super hero should be reserved for very exceptional circumstances, it should not be part of your job description.
@lilykreitinger Congratulations on the new job, Lily! A great question to understand the new environment as well. I am always amazed when I talk with clients about how few take the opportunity to ask questions in an interview. So few actually take the time to understand if they will fit into the new organization.
@ChristianNick @lilykreitinger That’s where I’ve been. I’ve never thought to ask questions or knew what questions to ask!
I surprised a person interviewing me one time. I let them know I saw the process as a way for me to get to know them and see if it was a place I really wanted to work at, in addition to them checking me out. Definitely scored some brownie points there. The best part: I meant every word. 🙂 Nope, I didn’t take the job even though they offered it to me…
@Laura Johnson @ChristianNick @lilykreitinger That’s awesome! I don’t know if I have the fortitude to not take a job offered to me…I’m too frustrated with where I’m at
@lilykreitinger “Superhero” is a nice asset to have under your belt, for an unusual circumstance. It should be an added bonus your employer discovers AFTER hiring you, but not to hire you based on that alone.
@skottydog @lilykreitinger Totally agree with that – superhero discovered AFTER the hire. Yes!
@skottydog @lilykreitinger Ya, may be hard to negotiate to have a phone booth right outside your office before they hire you…haha
@Skropp @skottydog @lilykreitinger
Chris has a phone booth right outside his office…..?
@lilykreitinger For example, Lily, your photoshop skills are amazing! We love you for your insightful comments, not your work with pictures. But it’s a great asset we didn’t know you had!
By the way, anytime you want to add hair to my mug shot, have at it!
@skottydog @lilykreitinger LOL on the hair add. 😉 You guys are hilarious!
@skottydog Sure thing! That will be $50 bucks
@lilykreitinger $50 is a small price to pay to have a hairline again! Sold!
@skottydog @lilykreitinger Oh oh, hair for me too!!
@lilykreitinger I love that you asked about the culture! That’s something I would’ve never thought to ask 6 months ago!!
So happy for you!!!! 🙂
@lilykreitinger I remember when I interviewed for my current employer was that I emphasized my goal is not to be a firefighter but in fire prevention. I think that was a key thing that landed me the position.
I view creativity (and work) as a way that we can recognize ourselves as people created by God. That said, our identity goes beyond our work— we are made in God’s image. If we look to our work as a source to identify ourselves and to display our skill we are more likely to be defined by our work instead of being defined by our maker.
What motivates people… and gives them purpose, is certainly important in this regard.
@Jon Henry Awesome point about who we choose to be defined by!
In the medical imaging world, the wrong hires usually don’t last. If someone doesn’t want to be there…or SHOULDN’T be there…it manifests in their work eventually.
The bigger the healthcare organization, the longer the process can take.
In a free-standing medical center, with 15-20 team members? It doesn’t take long to weed out the wrong hire at all. Large hospitals? Well, that can take months.
First of all, @ChrisLoCurto and @lilykreitinger your picture totally and completely rocks! IT made me laugh out loud in a public space. That was awkward. I think Lily needs to do one of these for everyone – custom shots for ‘The blog.’ 😉 Seriously cool.
I love what you have to say here Chris – it’s so sneaky how someone’s desire to ‘save the day’ can actually be an ‘I’m going to be a pain in your and your company’s backside’ because I’m a slacker and prefer to put out fires I allow to kindle. I’m saving this post away for future reference in our recruitment process.
Thanks to what I’ve learned here, our hiring process has changed drastically.
Before: it was just me. Gut decision. Very bad place. I shudder to think of all the nuts I let through. You really do need a team to inform the hiring process, and you really need an extensive process to pull people through.
Now: we have three people taking part. Now we have moved our process up to 5 stages, and that is even open for growth. One of my favorite stage adds has been the 10 e-mail questions for prospects who make it through the Resume stage. Brilliant! (Learned that from the Emma podcast.)
The wrong outcome we have been avoiding thanks to these changes:
We’ve caught prospects with great credentials who only care about $$.
Results of when we didn’t catch these people?
In the past we’ve been tricked with fancy degrees and wonderful looking experience on resumes, only to discover that they are a nightmare to work with. They only care about themselves, not the student or our company. Their first question: when do I get paid? Instead of: how am I doing with person X? How do you feel working with me?
That is a very bad hire.
@Aaron Nelson @ChrisLoCurto Aaron! I love the way you’ve explained the major changes in your hiring. You’re doing such a good job of applying what you learn daily to make important decisions for your team and your business. You will go places, friend!
@lilykreitinger @ChrisLoCurto Thanks Lily – yes, we have been working hard to apply what we learn. It sure has made a huge difference!
@Aaron Nelson @ChrisLoCurto @lilykreitinger It’s so awesome to see how this information translates into real businesses! Thanks for sharing Aaron!!
Why do I keep hearing Tina Turner singing the themesong from Beyond Thunderdome?
Allow me to translate the three statements of the interviewees:
“I REALLY need a job.”
“I REALLY want this one.”
“You are one of the nicest people I’ve ever been interviewed by so this must be a better place to work than my current situation.”
“If I portray exorbitant amounts of confidence, you will hire me.”
“ANYTHING has to be better than my current job!”
“This job involves traveling so I REALLY REALLY want it.”
“I think I can impress you with my can-do attitude and then you will hire me because I REALLY need a job.”
“I am so sick of job-hunting.”
Don’t ask me how I know what those guys were saying. Suffice it to say that I’ve been self-employed for 19 years now.
Chris, Great post and excellent comments and feedback. I love Lily’s picture 🙂
Because the motives of people are both easy to spot at times, and difficult to detect at other times, taking TIME with the hiring process cannot be underscored enough! When interviewing people who may have misguided motives, it might take quite a few interviews (or several interviewers) to ferret out these ill motives. This is especially true when interviewing folks who aren’t necessarily wearing these wrong motives on their shirtsleeves, or worse, when interviewing folks who may be deliberately trying to mask their real motives.
Because motives are not always obvious, a lengthy interview process can be very helpful for determining the motives of an interviewee. And I should note that this cuts both ways. While it is probably rare, there might be times when we incorrectly assume that someone’s motives are contrary to what they really are only because we haven’t spent enough time getting to know the person.
@rlawrencejr Very true! Since learning of EntreLeadership it’s been awesome to hear this concept of a longer interview process and the benefits thereof! I look back and see how short interview processes have been to the detriment of both me and those who’ve hired me because we found out down the road that the company’s motive and my motives were by in line, even though we thought they were! Great comment!
@Skropp Heard you mentioned on the podcast man! You’re da man!
@RicardoEquips Thanks buddy. It’s funny how my lack of knowledge makes people proud of me! Hahaha. Jk. I appreciate it.
@Skropp Since following Chris’s blog, and learning more about the interview process, I’ve been surprised at how short and lacking of substance most of the interviews I’ve been in have been.
@Laura Johnson I hear ya there! Most of mine have been little more than, “you’ve got a pulse, right?”
@Skropp lol! Well since you put it that way, sorry about that. But on the flip side, there is no such thing as a bad question. I thought it was a wonderful question. Sometimes it’s good to be a leader who says, “I don’t know. But I can find out for you or we can search this together.”
@RicardoEquips Haha. I was totally joking. I was just musing how when you’re young not knowing and asking a question makes you “stupid” and when you’re older, asking a question makes you smart! Haha. Might be a blog post somewhere in there! No need to apologize my friend!
I’ve seen a lot of this. One thing even the most talented people need to remember is that everyone had a role to place and something that they can best contribute. When I was working with a staff with a range of ages and abilities, I liked to think of them as a baseball lineup. You only need a couple of home run hitters, but you also need some people to get on base, to hit a great average and other to not make mistakes. If everyone is trying to be power hitters, you going to only have one point a view. And lose. A lot.
@mkokc Great point. Seems like the people that want to put out fires always want to bat cleanup (hmm, accidental pun, haha). They wanna be the star, the hero, the “go to guy”. And while you need a go to guy, you really don’t wanna go to them every hour or every day…
@Skropp @mkokc Agree. To use another sports analogy, we look for linebackers so skilled, the running backs don’t even know the other team was there.
I think most “want to be” heroes overlook the fact that the process of winning is exactly that, a process. It’s focusing on the small steps and truly understanding how the small steps relate to the big picture. As LoCurto can probably recall from dancing around a few half-marathon courses, it’s usually pretty easy to spot the people on those courses that didn’t follow the process of training and just assumed they would “figure it out” or summon their “inner hero” on race day. (I’ll admit, I’ve been one of those people before. 🙂 )
To me, it really comes down to the simple slogan most successful athletes and leaders follow: “Train Hard, Race Easy”. Athletes understand that races should, for the most part, be the easiest part or the “peak” of the training process just as leaders understand that the actual event, meeting or presentation should be easier than the preparation. And while most great leaders understand that some fires are going to happen that can’t be controlled or predicted (flat tires, power outages, flight delays, computers go offline, family emergencies, etc…), many leaders who are engaged in the process of winning are always going to have concerns when having to fight fires that should have never occurred simply because the process of winning wasn’t followed or a certain step was neglected by a team member.
If I’m a leader and fully engaged in a winning process that is established and proven effective, this is how I see most heroes:
“If you catch my house on fire because you forgot to turn off the stove and then assist me in putting out the fire, you may think I should see you as the hero who saved my house, but I won’t. I’ll remember you as the person who started the fire…”
Bottom line: Continually tweaking the process of winning, training hard, and not neglecting the small steps will prevent a majority of fires from occurring.
@Chadrick Black I really like that, “train hard, race easy…” I’ll have to remember that one, lots of applications for it
@Skropp @Chadrick Love that phrase also – “train hard, race easy…” is one I can use!
First @lilykreitinger – can you do a picture of me as Wonder Woman? Just wondering…….
Secondly, great points here that I had not thought of before. Someone who tells me they can deal with the drama – when I am saying I don’t WANT the drama – they are probably not the person I want to hire!
Pure simple disasters. I have seen this two or three times. The only way to fix the issue has been to let the “Wrong hires” go. it really does confirm how critical it it to get the right poeple as defined by motivations, agendas and whatever it will take to find that individual.