One belief I have held about staffing is that the best employees are also motivated, progression-minded individuals. I recently read a paper “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals” by Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). The paper also states that the grit quality entails working diligently toward challenges, maintaining effort and interests over time despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individuals are like the marathon runners, whose advantage is stamina. When obstacles set in and signal to others that it’s time to change path or cut losses, the gritty individuals usually stay the course.
In my experience, the best employees are not only gritty but also progression-oriented. They are diligent in doing the quality work and with the best results possible. They also have career goals such that they want to conclude their careers in a position that is higher or different than the one they began with. The paper also suggests that grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment in every field. I have also learned from my experience that those progressive and gritty individuals also exhibit the behaviors of being thorough, careful, reliable, organized, industrious, and self-controlled, the characteristics generally identified consistent with conscientiousness.
As a manager, how can you get some of these gritty individuals on your team and help them progress? Recruit the people not only with the skills but also with the gritty characteristics. Use behavioral interviews to uncover people’s experience where they showed their acts of dedication, passion, resilience, flexibility, commitment, and follow-through. After you get them on-board, help them get going with company specific know-how’s and tools to do their job. Get them aspired to perform and generate the necessary results by building the one-on-one relationships with them and delivering timely feedback. Furthermore, help them expand their capacity for excellence and for greater responsibility with on-going coaching and delegation. The good ones will leverage your support and their own initiative to manage their own careers.
Hiring well is hard work, but I cannot think of another managerial investment that yields a higher return than hiring and keeping capable employees around. In ITIL, people are considered as capability and as resources, and you need both elements to deliver values. That means you need not only capable people but also enough of them. When it comes to staffing, I especially like what Bob Lewis has written in his “Leading IT – Still the Toughest Job in the World” book. “Employees aren’t just collections of skills and abilities. They bring to their work motivation, loyalty, knowledge of the company, and most important of all the ability to drive success.”
Dedication: On this Fourth of July, I owe much of what I have today to those brave and “gritty” individuals who came before me in 1776.
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