The Blindside

Danielle Putnam
Contributing Writer
President, The New Flat Rate
Past President, Women in HVACR

Terrell Owens, a former American wide receiver who holds the 2nd most receiving yards in NFL history said, “If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.”  We are told if you expect greatness, that’s what you will get.  But, what happens when you don’t?  Being a business owner, this has played out so many times for me in staff recruiting.  I want to build my team with exceptional people, but I don’t always hit the bullseye.


Have you ever stopped to ask, what is the expectation on the other side of this transaction?  Because, you are not the only one involved. During the hiring process, there is an expected dance so-to-speak that occurs.  The employer avoids uncomfortable scenarios and the desired employee attempts to be someone else.  This happens all the time.  Now, we can’t always foresee the future, but if we really expose the truth in our expectation from the start, won’t both parties be more apt to succeed?


When hiring technicians and teammates, how often are we looking for a superstar company savior?  We hire with the expectation for them to fill an array of roles in the company like installer, technician, CSR and salesman, all at the same time.  After a few months, burn out and disappointment occurs and expectations on both sides haven’t been met.  Rodney Koop, says that companies looking for technicians tend to look for the following, “All service companies have an ideal technician in mind.  Characteristics typically include: mechanically inclined, trade skills, sales skills, dynamic personalities, and solution oriented capabilities.  The industry expects this binary super hero, able to sell an entire system change-out in under 10 minutes and then install it blindfolded.”  We hire with great expectation and forgo finding out why they wanted to work for us in the first place.


What if we started our hiring process by asking the right questions?  Have you ever asked your technicians why they wanted to work for you?  One of the most important questions I ask in the interview process is, “What do you know about my company and why exactly do you want to work here?”  Have you ever wondered what drew that particular person to your company and to the position they are trying to get?  As a business owner, I know exactly what I want in my staff.  It’s my responsibility to find out all that I can, and sometimes that requires asking hard questions.  There’s a lot to be revealed by asking questions that cause a little discomfort.  If the person gives a generic answer, more than likely they don’t know why they want to be there (except perhaps they want a job) and you can continue interviewing other interested prospects.  Don’t hire on an assumption; hire on confidence and facts.  As ‘they’ say, hire slow and fire fast.


We hire these men and women hoping we can mold them into something they are possibly not.  This is where we go wrong.  People can grow professionally, add skills and talents along the way, but this should be their pursuit, not your pressure. Hire for attitude and existing traits and avoid disappointment.  Hire for the expectation of future traits…you’re gambling.  We need to have high hopes for the people we add to our teams.  We need to hire people who have high hopes for themselves.  But we will be disappointed if we don’t find out on the front end the other side of the expectation.  Our hope is that building our winning team will help our companies succeed.  Our expectation is not to fail.

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