I would like to believe myself a good employer; flexible hours, fair pay, cool environment. But sometimes, lately, it’s difficult to find the person that has the “right stuff” some would call it an employee. Not, sure what I’m doing, sometimes I wonder if it is the talent pool. I can’t say. Most likely not, sometimes things just have to line up, just right, with the right people, the stars have to align, yada, yada, yada…
When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was “The Right Stuff”. The movie was an adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s book done adeptly enough that an 8 year old kid in Indianapolis, understood it enough that as a nearly 40 year old man can look back fondly and write about it in a blog post years later. Anyway, the movie was about how we, America, went very quickly in a flash, from breaking the sound barrier, to putting together a space program, picking astronauts with absolutely no clue as to what it took to select the people to beat the Russians to the moon. They, the powers that be at a fledgling NASA, didn’t know what to call what they were looking for; they just knew they needed “the right stuff”.
Before I started to grow, obviously, it was just me. If I needed to make a decision or to get something done, I just did it. Didn’t wait around, didn’t delegate a task to someone else to handle a job. But businesses can’t grow that way. So I reached out to the experts I knew, and asked them how to find the right people. The difficulty in running a small, but growing company, is that it’s hard to match the skillset that a person has now to the future demands of position that I know that I am going to need. People are of value, and of worth. And the last thing I want is to have a person that outgrows a position, rather than a position that doesn’t grow with the person and, and I lose a REALLY good employee.
The nature of a “coffee shop” is one where the usual employee is tattooed, may be in college, maybe not. More often than not, it’s seen as a transitional position, maybe I have the typical barista typecast, hope not, but.. Not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but I want something more.
When I started at Starbucks, even though I had a MBA, I wanted a change. I wanted the opportunity to start something new and to do whatever it took to grow with the company. And if I had to wait around, I would. But, I would hang on and roll out. Particularly knowing that it was a company that was known to foster and encourage development of its “partners”.
I can teach anybody how to make coffee, that’s the easy part. What I can’t teach are the soft skills, integrity, honesty, intelligence, the ability to communicate, and the ability and willingness to learn. Looking for an employee that wants more than just a job, that’s no fun.
I know finding the perfect person to add to the team, is going to be a tough road ahead. Hey, I started a business literally from nothing; four pounds of green coffee and a popcorn popper to be truthful, but for all intents and purposes, it was nothing. A lot like the pioneers of our space program, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Not to compare Darrin’s Coffee to a fledgling space program deep in the heart of a Cold War, but hey, I know what I’m looking for in a team member. I can’t put a name to what it “is” that I am looking for, I’m just looking for some people that have “the right stuff”. And we’ll fly to the moon