Recently I was reminded of a personnel selection that we made a few years ago. We had been blessed with a great professional in the position for many years and they were leaving the area. Their contributions to the organization and team were amazing; selecting the right person to replace them was critical.
Technical skills and creativity were key components of the job. At the same time, the work was done independently; a supervisor could not measure the daily progress made toward the final product. I am sure that some of you can point to a similar position in your organization.
But, the position involved more than task-related skills; efficient and effective use of our limited resources was as important as the creative work. If the employee provided a finished product that was unaffordable or was delivered too late, the work was worthless.
At the end of the selection process, two candidates were ranked at the top of the list. Each had presented themselves well and had strong records of past successes. But, the two candidates were very different from each other.
– The first candidate had less professional experience than did their competitor. Their academic preparation was good, but the schools they had attended were not nationally ranked. Their record of work was strong and supervisors ranked them at the highest level.
– The second candidate had an outstanding record of producing high quality work. Their education and training credentials were phenomenal. And, they also had great reports from past supervisors.
In the end, we selected the first candidate. Why? There was one strikingly different report on the two candidates. During discussions with references, several comments were made that the second candidate consistently missed deadlines. Supervisors had developed a pattern of assigning false schedules in the hope that the inevitable late submission would be in time to meet the real deadline.
It was an easy choice: we selected the one who had less experience but who always met deadlines and stayed within the budget. With that decision came our commitment to help the new team member grow in professional expertise.
I wonder if the second candidate understood how leaders and clients value trustworthiness. In this case, it cost them a job that included both an increase in pay and an opportunity for future advancement.
So often I hear parents and educators talk about the value of a good education and of the importance of success. I rarely hear comments about teaching the values of trustworthiness, of faithfulness, or of being dependable.
As a society, we must understand and appreciate that: the smartest person in the group is of no value if they are not dependable; the best experience in the world cannot make up for failure to operate within resource restraints.
So, how trustworthy are we? Are we dependable? Do we follow through? Are we faithful stewards of the time, treasures, talents and energy that has been given to us? Can the people around us rely on us?
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)