If you need to recruit someone fast, use an agency. If you need to recruit someone great, head to your local coffee shop. Why? Because it’s a great place to see people under pressure learning new skills in a customer facing team. Sure, it’s not rocket science, but making a perfect coffee requires you to learn a specific set of skills and master them at speed, whilst all the time building and maintaining a relationship with your co-workers and customers. You don’t have to be friendly under pressure to do the job, but the really good people easily stand out.
And you can go back day after day to see people in action. You see, for many mid level management roles, the right person is probably more important than the right skills, at least to start with. The type of person who can learn new skills and, importantly, build great relationships.
When i picked up my coffee this morning, heading for the train, running slightly late, slightly grumpy and dishevelled, i doubt that i was the best company. But, as usual, there was a smile, a conversation and a great coffee waiting. It’s an interesting crossover situation between the formal transaction of a purchase and the social dynamics that make me go back there day after day. That’s a pretty magical mixture, both for sales and for management: building relationships that are magnetic, making people want to work with you.
Reading a cv and interviewing someone is a fine way to watch them perform their rehearsed and moderated act, but seeing someone perform live, that’s a whole different thing. The networked knowledge economy rewards agile performers, people who can adapt: it’s less about turning up on your first day with all the skills in place, more about knowing how to find things out, build relationships and adapt.
As we adopt progressively greater levels of social learning at work, so we should explore more social ways of recruiting, of developing and strengthening our teams. In the networked world, we can find great people in all sorts of places.