What my kids teach me about workforce dynamics Part 2 of 4

This is the second in a four-part series that will explore workplace personalities, and how different, unique strengths can be properly honed to achieve a balanced team.

This is my second post on what my kids have taught me about workplace dynamics. If you missed the first, please click here to see the introduction to the series. Now, on to the second oldest kid, my 4-year-old son, Griffin.

Griffin is the coolest kid around. EVERYBODY loves him. He is always happy, has an engaging personality, and can win just about anyone over with a quick smile and laugh. When anyone else in the family has a birthday, he gets a present. Not because he needs it. But because everyone loves to see his enthusiastic reaction and appreciation for receiving a gift. Yeah, he’s that kid. In the workforce, he’s the one you want selling for your company. Or the one you want to go hang with at lunch. Prospects would hand him orders, just to say they work with him. He’s sooooo cool.

OK. What’s the analogy Jason? Sounds like he would be the perfect employee, right?

Griffin has had a significant speech delay his short life so far. In fact, we couldn’t understand anything that came out of his mouth until he was 3 and a half years old. Even then, it was minimal and now at 4 and a half, you can understand about 80% of what he says, but he still struggles and has what I would describe as a fairly significant speech impediment.

So wait, how does he win everyone over then? Well, he is charming as all get out AND a study in perseverance. You see, Griffin could not say what other kids his age could say, but he wanted to communicate badly and he found ways around his block to do it. His will to keep working at it was astounding and I believe two things will all of my heart: 1) Within 2 years you will never know he had delayed speech; 2) He will benefit from this experience the rest of his life.

How often are we looking for this trait in the people we hire and manage? Not enough. These are the people who have no business being in the room, yet somehow outperform all of those who supposedly have more talent and are better equipped for the job. As managers and leaders, we MUST be constantly looking for this trait. So many times over the course of my career, I’ve passed over the employee who was thrusting their hand in the air saying “I want that job. I want that responsibility. I will get it done for you,” to go for the person who seemed more “qualified”. But here is the problem, while qualifications are important, they are not 100% of what is needed. Desire, tenacity, and perseverance – those are tools that must also be considered. In fact, they might just be the difference makers. So, please, when you are looking to hire that next great employee, give a promotion, or simply assign a project, remember to ask the question: “Give me one example of when you had to overcome a significant challenge to achieve something you wanted?” That may be the key to your next great employee…

I know what my answer to that question will be and I certainly know what Griffin’s should be some day. Do you know yours?