I’ve never been the type to hire a warm body.
Even in times when Kaser could’ve desperately used another set of hands, I’ve proceeded cautiously. There’s too much at stake: the team’s camaraderie, the quality of Kaser’s product, the amount of time it takes to train someone new – I’m not willing to risk any of that on a candidate I don’t believe in. I’d rather stay late every night for a month than hire the wrong person (and believe me, there have been a lot of late nights).
Oddly enough, as the labor market has become more competitive, so have my standards.
At a time when every employer I know is desperate for any help, I’ve actually raised my bar. I’m not entirely sure why – I think it happened independently of global circumstances. I’ve just reached a point in my management journey where I’m willing to wait for excellence.
“Excellence” has been written about to death, in every imaginable context. The one that resonates with me the most right now is sports. We all know the football franchises that shine – the ones with high standards and tough coaches, where the players visibly derive a sense of pride from wearing the uniform. That is the level of excellence to which I aspire at Kaser.
We’re most of the way there. Everyone on the team is talented, committed, and indispensable. Actually, that’s probably why I’m comfortable being picky: while I’d be thrilled if four new hires started tomorrow, I know what I have, and I’m intent on protecting it.
So while I’m still trying to add to the team’s numbers, the next big step in Kaser’s evolution actually involves focusing inward. I want us to start sweating the small stuff, more than we already do. I want us to be clean shaven every day because it’s safer. I want us to wear PPE when no one is watching. I want us to read work orders, even if we know what they’re going to say. I want everyone’s attendance to be like clockwork, so that we can focus on what really matters: blasting and coating.
More than anything, I want new hires to be struck with the sense of pride, ownership, and urgency that the whole team feels about the work they do.
I will continue to make hiring mistakes, of course. Interviews can only reveal so much, and candidates may need to experience the job before realizing it’s not for them. That’s ok. Excellence takes time, and I’m willing to spend it.