How Inexperience Won the Day

Bob showed up at our work site, eager and willing to do anything. We were desperate that day for extra help in setting up heavy audio and video equipment and Bob was called in at the last minute. The problem was that Bob had only been on one other similar job in the past. He was inexperienced in every sense of the word.

His shirt wasn’t tucked in properly and his pants were too small for his large frame. Young Bob looked a bit goofy. When we told Bob what had to be done, he would listen intently, nod his head in agreement, and simply respond with the word “absolutely.” It was the kind of answer you wanted to hear, but because he didn’t ask any questions, you were never quite certain if Bob understood everything. Did he actually absorb all of the instructions after hearing them only once?

Everyone on the team was busy that day so Bob would have to work alone. Off he went – with me and our senior project manager skeptical that Bob would get anything done on time and correctly.

His job was to wire up a series of computers, program a TV monitor, connect a few modems, and arrange some work stations with cables securely taped down so nobody would trip over them. He also had to set up some tables and chairs in a particular configuration. Bob had never worked with any of the equipment before and was not familiar with the room.

It normally takes an experienced person about an hour to get that room ready. Bob walked out after 25 minutes, looked at me and said, “Is there anything else I can do?”

In a state of disbelief, I asked, “Did you get everything done?”

Response: “Yes”.

When I looked in the room, I was in shock again.

Not only did he get everything done, the room was arranged as though a whole team of people had set it up. The tables and chairs were perfectly placed, the wiring was completely hidden, the computers were all logged in correctly and the monitor displayed the correct programming.

I turned to Bob and said, “How the heck did you do this?”

Previously acting like a mute, Bob had plenty to say this time. He told me that he always did his best and that the work he did was a reflection on me, the owner, so he didn’t want to disappoint me. Bob further explained that he had the utmost respect for our clients and that they deserved to have the best environment possible.

I had never heard such words from my most experienced managers, never mind some kid who came out of nowhere.

Impressed by Bob, I invited him to a coffee afterwards and asked him, “Bob, we hired you to set up a room and some equipment. What do you really want to do with your life?

Once again, Bob had me in a state of shock.

He replied: “That.”

I said, “What? You mean you want to keep setting up rooms and equipment? ha ha. Really?”

Bob reiterated, “Yes, I love doing that work. I take great pride in it. I am a professional set-up artist.”

I could not help both laughing and crying at the same time. Here was someone who took such great pride in the most menial and lowly of jobs and did it better than anyone else.

Days went by, and I was in deep thought about Bob. I had never met anyone like him. We needed help on set-up for every single project. Could I actually create a full time job for Bob? And if I did, would it make sense for my company?

In a follow-up chat with Bob, we talked about money and I asked him to fire off a rate for me. It was low. Very low. So I suggested a rate that was double.

I could tell that Bob was now the one in shock, and not me.

Bob is a full time set-up artist now in our company – the best in the land.

What I learned? Always hire for attitude, commitment to service and love of work.

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