Saturday, December 1, 2018

Size Matters?

If I can prepare a 300LB cheeseburger, am I then 600 times more valuable to a family than the private chef who only wants to serve his signature half-pounders?

OMG, that's a really big one.

Now, about that clever title. I've never really liked it much, and frankly, have always found it offensive. Not because I have any embarrassment about human anatomy, but because those two words jammed together are just too powerful and go too fast, and all within too quick a span of time. Sort of like the '78 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am I once owned, and I never liked it very much either. But I had this nagging feeling that I was supposed to.

That's really why size matters has been so popular ~ it tricks us into thinking that big is always good for us, in whatever circumstance the two words are pulled out, so to speak. It's been used to sell virtually everything to us, from sodas, to cars, to burgers, to your number of LinkedIn connections (did you know that you can actually buy them?!!), all effectively drowning out any subtleties of the situation that otherwise might threaten the sale. Even The Citizen shamelessly exposes in full frontal view the number of page visits since 2010 - and it's huge. What this all means came together for me just this past Friday, in an interesting collision of events and all within a very brief a span of time.

Within not ten minutes of sharing an article on LinkedIn, I had a conversation with a domestic industry recruiter who'd not seen the post, yet wholly made my point about it, as he sought my advice for a candidate he was considering for a position - based solely upon the candidate's 25 years in the industry. A big, apparently size-mattering number - or so he thought.

This amazing article I'd shared was from a recruiter (outside the domestic industry), who'd explained the real reason good candidates accept or reject job offers is greatly dependent on Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs and what the author had coined as the LIB curve:

- What am I going to Learn in this job?

- What is the Impact I'll have?

- What will I Become for having been in this job for a period of time?

Now, it's crucial to realize the author wasn't suggesting what the answers should be for any of them, yet I agree with the author that the best candidates out there will be having those same thoughts ~ and the reasons domestic industry recruiters often fail to enlist these candidates is because they dismiss those candidates' concerns for self-actualization. If the first question an agent asks you is the now oddly popular "what are your salary requirements," you can be assured of this, because those seeking learning, impact, and becoming, just won't be focused on the base level of the Maslow pyramid; their needs have moved beyond the simple transaction of paychecks - even really big ones.

Having the article's link freshly stored in my copy and paste function, I replied to the recruiter and the response was, not surprisingly, curt and somewhat irritated about my proposal, as the client was, after all, he reminded me (placed number on the Forbes 400 is withheld here). Regrettably, not knowing anything about the candidate's real, actual skills, and even less about the job's real, actual responsibilities, I was unable to be of much help and somewhat doubted that anyone really could.

How many times have we seen this repeated, in the haste to create something valuable by quantifying, instead of also qualifying? Or worse, assuming one always equals the other? Does it ever turn out well? Randomly, I suppose it could, but maybe I'm not thinking big enough. 

Some random streaming inquiry...
  • Is it really 10 years experience we have in a job, or is it one year of experience that's repeated ten times? What, exactly, new skills are learned or provided to the employer during years number two through ten, and can they be articulated? Is "must have 7 (or some other arbitrarily assigned number which we see in all the job ads online) years of experience" really a sensible method for knowing if candidates can perform in their next job? What if it was 7 years of really bad service?
  • If I can prepare a 300LB cheeseburger, am I then 600 times more valuable to a family than the private chef who only wants to serve his signature half-pounders?
  • A housekeeper candidate once told me that I should hire her, because she had once worked for "a billionaire" (she actually whispered the word billionaire, as if we were in church). Did that mean her professional talent was at least twice that of housekeepers employed by those poorer families worth only 500 million?  
  • Is it a different skill set to manage an estate with six houses, instead of three? Cocktails for 400, instead of 100? Staff of twelve, instead of four? You'd think so, anyway, after reading some of the ads online. And what exactly is going on at a 35,000 sq. ft. estate that would eclipse the skill level of a candidate who'd only worked at a 20,000 sq. ft. estate? And how, exactly, would the additional skills needed for those extra 15,000 sq. ft. be explained to a prospective employer during the interview? What could one honestly say?
Less... and more. Brilliant! 
  • If an estate manager were responsible for service delivery at four houses for the same employer, yet all four were located in the same city, would it still be considered multi-property estate management? If not, how far apart would each house have to be, in order to qualify for this supposedly bigger responsibility in the domestic industry? Most importantly, would the estate manager need to have more complex skills than someone managing only one house? I once thought so. But after eating lunch at White Castle the other day, now I'm not so sure. Have you tried their cheese sliders? They're delicious!

What's been your own domestic career development ~ and how has size mattered to it? 

I'd love to hear from you. The size of your note won't make any difference to me, but what you have to say - always will!