How Well Do You Sleep When the Storms Come?

Well-qualified Doesn’t Guarantee Reliability

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | September 29, 2016

I’ve heard employers publicly brag about their employees, but privately disparage them due to their lack of reliability. These employers appreciate the skills of their employees, but don’t feel comfortable relying on them to manage even a limited portion of the operations. Hiring people who are well-qualified and skilled doesn’t guarantee they will be reliable.

I recently learned about a young woman named Jenny.

Jenny had applied for a job as a farm hand with Ed Jackson, a co-owner of Jackson Family Farms. When interviewed, Ed asked about her qualifications. Jenny spoke proudly of her training and experience working on her grandfather’s farm. As Ed discussed the stresses of farm work and the 24/7 nature of the operation, Jenny just smiled and said, “I sleep well when the storms come.”

Ed was somewhat puzzled by the remark, but since Jenny had interviewed well and provided better references than the other applicants, he offered her the job.

A couple of weeks later, Ed was awakened in the night by a strong thunderstorm. He dressed quickly and began to check things out. He found the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened and the generators had been topped off with fuel in case of a power outage. The implements had been placed in the storage building, safe from the elements and the tractors had been moved into the machine shed. The barn had been properly locked and even the livestock seemed calm. As you can imagine, Ed was relieved to find that everything was safe and secure.

Then, Ed remembered Jenny’s words, “I can sleep when the storms come.”

Because Jenny was reliable and proved faithful to her tasks when the weather was clear, she would always be prepared for the storms that would inevitably come. Moreover, Ed realized he could sleep well tonight, and every night, because he could depend on Jenny’s reliability.

There is no reason to hire skilled individuals who are not reliable. However, addressing employee reliability during the hiring process often doesn’t make the employer’s list for recruiting, screening or interviewing candidates.

If you are uncertain how to modify your current practices, help is available. You will never have confidence in an employee who lacks reliability, no matter how talented he/she may be. As an employer, by including this one qualification you can have greater confidence in the employees you hire and who knows, maybe you’ll start sleeping better, even when the storms come.

David Cox


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