Advice for Employers – Guest Column

If I Only Had A Bill

By Susan Sterritt Meyer  |   Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®), MS, BS, BA. Meyer helps individuals and companies craft credible, image-enhancing communications. She served nine years in the Army Reserve, with two activations. She devoted more than 20 years of her career to management positions in human resources, and now uses her expertise to teach, coach, and develop leaders.

Published in the November/December 2010 issue of print Search & Employ®

Last week, I was enjoying a business lunch with the CEO of a large regional company.  When he needed to respond to intermittent calls on his cell phone, I tried courteously to direct my attention elsewhere. The eatery was very crowded and noisy, so I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the booth behind me. It became apparent that it was a gathering of supervisors from a nearby company. I’d heard this conversation many times before.  Perhaps you have, too. It went something like this…

Bob:  I heard your whole line went down and you had to try to get those jokers to stick around and work on it. How did that go?

Jason:  Ha!  Good luck on that one (remark was sarcastic).  Those guys are out of there so fast at 3:00 your head would spin. They don’t care what we need. It’s all about them. As much time as I’ve invested in trying to make their area cushier, they just don’t seem to appreciate it or anything else that (XYZ Company) does for them. They should be grateful they have jobs these days.

Rebecca:  My bunch is no better, and you’d think customer service people would be more, well, customer sensitive. But no matter what I try, they are still all about themselves. They’re nice enough to customers, but they never go out of their way to solve a problem that a little initiative could solve. It’s very discouraging. They just leave it for somebody else.

Tom:  So, what happened? Did your guys stay?

Jason:  I was able to catch a few engineers before they raced out the door, but only one of the operators would stay. They all had some lame excuse, which I think really had more to do with nice weather outside than anything else.

Bob:  Let me guess. It was Bill, wasn’t it?

Jason:  Yep, Bill stood by as usual and asked me what he could do to help. We got it fixed because of him, actually. While I was busy with the engineers, he figured it out on his own. Saved us hours. Can you believe that guy?

Rebecca:  You are so lucky to have somebody like Bill.

Tom:  Yeah. I’ve worked around him. If I could steal him from you, I would do it in a heartbeat. He’s amazing. You can give him a problem and just let him go. He works independently, solves problems on his own, and stays with it till the job gets done. Nothing seems to faze that guy, either. It’s like he has seen worse, so whatever you throw at him is easy.

Rebecca:  I could use Bill in Customer Service. I’m sure he’d go the extra mile to get the answer for people. He’s full of energy and every time I see him, he’s friendly but working, not goofing around.

Tom:  I could use somebody, or a lot of somebodies like Bill in shipping, too. He wouldn’t spend half his time texting or surfing the web. That guy is a hard worker and seems to thrive on it. And unlike the rest of my merry band that straggle in as they see fit looking like something from a freak show, he’s always on time, neat and clean, ready to work. I want him, too, Jason.

Jason:  Yeah.  I am so glad I hired him. And it took so little to train him. He’s respectful and gets along with everybody. But he’s loyal to me and the team, guys, so you can forget it. SO LEAVE BILL ALONE!  GO OUT AND GET YOUR OWN VETERAN!

I couldn’t help but smile at this conversation, since it mirrored my experiences over the years, too.

Moral of the story  If you have the opportunity to bring a veteran on board, remember that you are very likely to be acquiring someone more mature than his or her civilian peers,  who’s mission-oriented, respects authority, and able to think on his or her own. Expect good self-discipline and willingness to do what it takes to make the mission (your company) successful. Loyalty comes with the territory and the ability to work within a diverse environment is already well established. So, do yourself a favor and, as Jason said, “Go Out and Get your Own Veteran!”

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers