Enthusiasm: A Key Hiring Requirement

by Michael Haberman on May 1, 2008 · 0 comments


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.

BTW, if you want a great monthly read from a great writer, speaker and consultant then subscribe (for free) to Alan’s monthly newsletter The Balancing Act, which shows up in your mailbox on the first of every month without fail.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan Weiss May 3, 2008 at 8:31 am

Thanks for the kind reference!

Alan Weiss
http://www.contrarianconsulting.com

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Dan McCarthy May 17, 2008 at 7:07 am

Michael –
I just discovered your blog from the latest HR carnival. Your practical experience gained from the school of hard knocks comes through. I’ve subscribed and added you to my blogroll.

My company has always “hired for attitude, trained for skill”, and it works for us. We’ve been one of the most financially successful U.S. companies for the last 20 years, and a year over year Fortune Great Place to Work winner and Training Top 125 winner. The key is good hiring practices, investment in training programs, creating a good work environment, and giving employees what they need (benefits, time off, security) to address their basic needs. Sounds so simple…..

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