Published on: March 27, 2008Now available on iTunes
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
There was a terrific column this week in Advertising Age by a guy named Tom Martin, how to hire people. The piece, Martin writes, was inspired by a young guy who was being interviewed for a job by his agency, and who, when given the opportunity to ask questions of his interviewer, said he had just one: What sucks around here?
The question, Martin says, was the best one any interviewee ever asked him, because it made him think about the heart of what makes a workplace work – the people who, ideally, come together in the pursuit of common goals, fighting the battles together rather than against each other. When a workplace sucks, he said, it often is because the wrong people have been hired and the wrong attitudes pervade the space, whether the space be an ad agency, a retailer, or even an Internet start-up.
Think about it. I did, and I think that is a savvy observation about what makes for a good job and a bad job. I’ve had my share of both, and in just about every case, the best and worse thing about the jobs was the people who I worked with and their attitudes toward both the process and the goals. There’s nothing worse than a job in which everybody is rowing in different directions – it is exhausting, you don't go anywhere, and you feel like you’re wasting your time.
Martin also lists the qualities he looks for in new hires – both the qualities he wants to add to his staff and the deficiencies he wants to keep outside the building.
The good qualities, according to Martin, include:
• Character. It counts. We only want people who understand that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.
• Someone who enjoys the journey to understanding more than already knowing the answer.
• Strong, critical thinking skills and the ability to stand in front of a room, on a moment's notice and compellingly articulate your position.
• Be highly motivated and settle for nothing less than total success.
• Understand that failure is not an end but a beginning.
• Aware of trends, people, ideas and technology. There are no new ideas, just folks that cast a long, wide antenna and are then able to connect dots in new and fascinating ways.
• Has a sense of humor.
• Drinks beer. Well not exclusively....
I love those last two…
And what doesn’t he want in new hires? Martin writes:
• Drama: Life's way too short. No whining allowed.
• Order takers: This is NOT an agency where we merely courier information between the client and agency or simply ask if they'd like fries with that. Our clients expect us to provide well thought out, strategically based opinions on how to solve their marketing challenges.
• Someone who settles: Life doesn't stop nor should your passion for learning. Be driven to exceed and proficient at modeling that behavior day in, day out.
Now, some of these qualities are specific to the ad agency biz, but they really do have applications elsewhere. It comes down to hiring creative, thoughtful, motivated, intellectually curious people who are willing to learn and try new things…and in doing so, are able to provide leadership within an organization and even help teach and inspire the people who hired them.
Works for me. If I were hiring right now, that’s what I’d be looking for. And if I were looking for a job, I’d only want to work at places with these sorts of priorities…because I could be fairly sure that these were workplaces that treat their people like assets, not costs.
For me – and I think for an increasing number of people – that’s the bottom line.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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