Victor vs. Victim


It was Thanksgiving of 2009 and I was planning my Black Friday shopping list  – until my world came crashing down. All employees hours at work were dramatically cut. Instead of letting multiple people go, the owner of the company, Thomas, thought it best to split the hours he could afford, amongst all of the staff instead of laying anyone off. I remember running to the bathroom crying, because it looked very likely I would not be able to buy my family and friends any Christmas gifts, let alone afford rent, food, and other expenses.

The reactions of my workmates made my jaw drop. Some swore, one woman stormed out angrily, blaming Thomas for the situation. Most were full of fear and questioned how they could survive with the few hours they had left. They complained that they would not be able to feed their kids, pay bills, or buy for the holidays. They stood around in small groups, moaning and concentrating on all of the negative aspects of the situation.

But others were totally different. After the shock of the news had worn off, they decided to make the most of what they had. They worked out how to find other part time jobs and shared tips on how to save money on groceries. They remained positive, kept their composure and were even grateful that at least they had some hours.  Eventually reactions to the incident helped weed out those who fit the company’s core values and when business picked up, I got a promotion! Patience and positivity paid off. I wish my co-workers that chose to live below the line learned a lesson because negativity never wins, particularly in the long run.

The Line of Choice. It’s a simple concept that we have discussed before, but we probably need a refresher. We all face difficult situations in our lives, it’s an inevitable part of personal and business life, but what marks out those that are truly successful is how they choose to deal with adversity. As a business owner or senior manager, it’s likely that you have already decided that you’re not going to be the type of person to allow difficulties to become permanent setbacks. 

The Line of Choice

But do you use this same concept when recruiting staff? Are you asking the right questions to find out if they take ownership of difficult situations? “Can you tell me about a time that you went for a promotion and didn’t get it? How did you get over it?”

Do they hold themselves accountable and responsible? “What would you do if you were a junior partner on a project team and it looks like your team may miss the deadline?”

We have recognized that many of our clients are not good at weeding out the “Below the Liners” early in the recruiting process. If the candidate has had 4 jobs in the last 3 years and the reason for them leaving each time was that their boss was a jerk, maybe the problem wasn’t the boss. If a candidate is willing to criticize a current co-worker (or friend/family member) they are likely to be doing the same thing pretty soon after you employ them. The candidates you want are the ones that acknowledge that they’ve had problems during their career but at the same time accept the part that they had in the situation and then set out to make the most of what they had.

So are you recruiting Victors or Victims? The good news is that even if you recognize your current recruiting methods aren’t ideal, you can always change. If you need help to “Get Above the Line”, please give us a call at (440) 385.6737.