Watch Out for Hector and Larry
I have held this story for several months. I am going to share the story of a young man that applied for a part-time job at C3 last summer that had all the signs of a potential leader. Let's call him Larry. One of our core values is ownership. I look for this quality in our applicants. Are they reliable, dependable, trustworthy? This is the foundation of the second core value of excellence. If they take ownership, they will work with excellence. The final core value is safety. If they are a person who takes ownership and works with excellence, they will not let safety slip. I look for this and have a strict filtering process for C3 hiring. It's obvious when an applicant is lazy or not willing to work. My dad was the hardest worker in his gas utility crew. But there was a guy named Hector that always managed to do the least amount to not get fired. He never pulled his weight. Others in the crew including my dad had to do his work. Hector was overweight and lazy. No one liked Hector, but Hector was just fine because he had a cushy job that paid well and others did his work. By the way, that guy managed to retire from the utility company. It's incredible that the leadership of this company allowed 'Hectors' to survive. They kill morale. It's obvious when a Hector shows up in your applicant pool. They stand out. But what about the other extreme?
Larry applied to C3 and completed all of the steps to earn an interview. He was enthusiastic about cleaning. He has been working in cleaning for years part-time with his family. He was passionate about our company's mission and values. He was off-the-charts ambitious. He had young kids and had big goals and dreams. He listened to several of my podcasts and was excited to work for me and get mentored. He wanted to grow his own cleaning company. Larry had an aura around him that rang the bell I was looking for. As quoted in one of my favorite movies of all time (you can guess it)... "That brings us to Larry. Oh yeah. I had to chance to speak with Larry today. That guy is a straight-shooter with upper management written all over him." I saw the potential in him to not just become a cleaning team member. I saw him rising quickly to become my first supervising team leader. I saw him rising beyond that to join the leadership team I will build. I saw all kinds of potential. Have you ever met a Larry? He stands out just as much!
I hired Larry. He was a home run for sure! He said all the right things and presented himself really well. But in the action steps portion of my onboarding process I noticed that he wasn't reliable during the weekends. He was working long hours with his dad and also tired from his full-time job during the week. I would send a step to complete and he would go silent over the weekend and active again Tuesday through Thursday. This was a yellow flag as he wanted to be hired for weekend cleaning. I pressed on anyway based on his words, his enthusiasm, and his potential. He 'Hectored' through the onboarding process and received every benefit of the doubt from me because he had so much potential. I was blinded. I set up his first training. He called if off as he was sick. This was out of our control. He was so apologetic and excited to start working with me. I allowed him to reschedule. He missed the second one because he was over committed with his other job on the weekends which kept him out into the midnight hours. 7:00 AM Saturday training with me sounded great on Thursday, but not at 3 AM Saturday morning. He called it off again. Larry was super apologetic again and excited to work for me. This time, I wisened up and realized what was happening. I was getting 'Larried'. He was not lazy. They guy was super ambitious. I admired how much he worked for his family. I was blinded by the vision of the employee he could be based on what he said and his potential. The reality was that Larry was way over-committed. He had the potential, but not the capacity to become the person I believed he could be. I never had to fire him. He slinked away without ever contacting me again when I refused to reschedule training.
This whole thing was a big lesson for me. I told my 11-year-old son Kolby about Larry. I said. "Kolby, we had a new employee that was really excited to work for us but he didn't show up to work. What do you think about that?" His answer was awesome. That's worse than someone not wanting to work for you and showing up. At least the cleaning gets done." Kolby summed up Larry and Hector in one statement. As leaders, we need to listen to people's words. Their words declare their intentions. But intentions don't get it done. We have to watch at the next level. Are people's intentions turning into corresponding actions that build trust and take ownership? I will not get fooled again by a Larry or a Hector.
Check out my interview with the CBF Founder, entitled "A Buffalo Charges the Storm with Debbie Sardone". Debbie is offering free consultations to listeners of this show through the Smart Cleaning School Resources Page at smartcleaningschool.com/resources to see if CBF could be the right solution for you.
Leave a Reply.
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.