When hiring people, there are some definite signs that I look for—not that I’m always on target, as I have invited a clinker or two into my inner sanctum over the years. Besides all of the obvious things such as: knows how to sew, which is rather low on my list; and plays well with others, there is another biggie and that is personal timing.
We all have an inner clock. Some people are hummingbirds. They think fast, work fast, talk fast and drive the rest of us crazy with their hyperactivity. They have the attention span of a gnat, which would explain why they think they can work and talk on personal phone calls at the same time. They can’t wait for directions, because they already know. It doesn’t matter what kind of activity they are involved in just so that it’s activity. “Accuracy be hanged, can’t you see I’m working here?” you might hear.
Sometimes they work themselves into a lathered frenzy, look around about noon, and sit down for the rest of the crew to catch up with them. “Yes indeed, I put in my eight hours between 8 a.m. and 12 noon this morning, what’s holding up the rest of you people?”
Then we have the other end of the spectrum. These little lumbering lads and lassies have one speed: slooooowwww. They think slow, they talk slow, and they move slow. You can try to prod them along, but it won’t work. They’ll shut down right away. On more than one occasion, I highly suspected a hint of passive aggression in some of these people. “I’m not going to hurry, and you can’t make me. Hurriedness is wrong, wrong, dirty wrong, and I will not be a party to it,” they say.
ARE YOU READY YET?
Those are the two extremes, but everyone has a personal clock that they march to. I find that I tend to make close friends with people who match my cadence in speech and actions. I also hire people that come within a comfortable range of my own personal time clock. When I have new people working for me, I immediately notice their timing. It takes a while for me to become accustomed to their timing and to fall in line with them. If their timing is too far off from my own, I find that they do not work out. I’ve found out the hard way that you have to accept how they are; you can’t mess with their personal rhythms and get optimum results.
Here is a perfect example. Years ago, my brother came down to help me build shutters every weekend. My brother is a superb craftsman. At his regular job he is a project manager for the construction of multi-million dollar buildings. He’s not used to having a boss, and he has his own rhythm. His rhythm didn’t suit me. I bit my tongue while he rearranged the saws. I said, “Are we ready to build shutters yet?”
He said, “No, not yet.” He wasn’t happy with the saw blades, so we had to change them.
Again I said, “Are we ready to build shutters yet?” I was chomping at the bit looking at multiple crates of shutters that had to go.
Again he said, “No, we need a heavy grit belt sander belt put on a special block of wood so we could knock the burrs off of our cuts.”
Again, “Are we ready yet?”
And yet again he said, “Not yet, the sawdust abatement system seems to be stopped up.”
“That’s why they invented brooms,” I said under my breath.
After two hours of nesting and prep time, we were indeed ready to build shutters. At lunchtime I brought back lunch. “Here’s lunch, let’s eat,” I said.
“No, I am not at a stopping point,” he said.
Now, there’s something wrong when you can’t entice a person out of their methodical behavior by waving a sandwich under his nose. I worried all day, thinking we would never get enough work done. But about 4:30 that afternoon I noticed something. We were finished. It was done. He fooled me into thinking we weren’t making headway when all the time we were making up time on the front end by having things just right for optimum productivity. Needless to say, when he comes down to work, I let him be boss. I adjust my timing to his.
I find that some people just work smarter than others. It’s usually the nesters and preparers that put the time and thought in the front end that produce the most. They’re hands aren’t really moving any faster, they just produce more with economy of motion. That’s why I’ve learned to hang back and observe. A person with a little different timing than mine, someone just a bit slower, might be much more productive than someone like me who buzzes from phone to sewing machine to computer back to machine, flitting away with lots of action but very little output.
And then we have the night owls. Our company has one employee who comes in around noon. We’re glad because her engine doesn’t get running until around noon-ish. Her very best work comes out of her after midnight. To maximize her output we let her set her own hours. We don’t care when she works as long as we are getting the best she has to offer. The best she has to offer is on her own time schedule.
We also have the early birds. They accomplish more before 8 a.m. than most people do all day. We let them be early birds; it’s their maximum output time.
I’ve found that it’s best to let people work close to their own speed as long as that speeds is consistent with company goals. Frankly, messing with their timing gets results that you don’t want. If you find that you have employees whose timing is not melding with the group, I doubt if they’d be good matches for your company. When you consider hiring employees, add to your requirements a test to determine timing, especially if your shop is set up to do production work. Timing is everything when products are moving down an assembly line.
When you think about it, it is very difficult to find good employees, particularly with the scarcity of people who know how to sew. If a person is trainable, plays well with others and comes close to the corporate sense of timing in my shop, it is usually a good bet that the person is worth a try. We can always train her to sew.