Once a year or so, I hire someone with the uncanny ability to handle any and all tasks that Kaser throws at them.
It’s rare, but always exciting. Some people seem to have a knack for producing higher-than-average quality, no matter what task they’re given.
For lack of a better word, I call that talent.
Maybe they were born with it, or maybe it was instilled in them in their formative years. All I know is that by the time they reach me, it’s already there – which is good, because I’m almost positive I can’t teach it.
What I can teach is skills. Specifically, I can teach skills related to the finishing industry: hanging, packaging, pretreatment, spraying, quality control. I can demonstrate the best and most efficient ways to do all of these things, explain what pitfalls to look out for, and share the benchmarks I use to measure success.
I can even, to a more limited degree, influence certain behaviors. I can reward people for good safety practices. I can express frustration when they’re consistently late. I can communicate expectations clearly. Whether or not people respond to that influence depends on a variety of factors over which I have very little control, but I can (and do) try.
Talent lives beyond behavior and skill. It’s something else entirely, like an x factor. Talented people hold themselves to a higher standard. They’re extremely aware. They’re quick to embrace a challenge. I can’t elicit any of that if it’s not there; all I can do is keep training skills and rewarding progress.
If talent is there, though, I throw everything I can at it. I’ll move and cross-train talented people around the shop floor until they find their niche, and then I’ll give them every opportunity to pursue what they enjoy.
It’s easily the best part of being a manager.