Monday, August 11, 2014

Work Hard or Work Smart

I once had a leader that I respect say something to me that will stick forever.  I was an internal corporate recruiter.  It was just before the boom of electronic resume databases.  Resumes came in the mail on paper.  Applicants called to inquire about jobs.  We only used email to communicate internally corporately. (I know I sound like a dinosaur.)  We would post an ad in the paper, wait for the resumes to come, review EVERY one of them and follow up accordingly…with EVERY one. 

This employer was in the top 100 companies to work for in the United States.  When we would post a job there was more work than you could get through, even in an extended day. 

I have always been a “hard worker” it is a value my father had and I am proud of it.  I would work very late until all of the resumes were processed and I had a plan put together for the next day.  It was manual and I did it as “hard” as I could.  I wanted my boss to value it too.  I wanted him to appreciate the “hard work” I was doing.  He saw the late emails coming from me in the office on a regular basis. 

One morning he came to my desk and said, “Kari, I appreciate how hard you are working but I would prefer to see you work smart and get out of here at a reasonable hour than work hard and burn out.”   At first I was crushed.  But it was truly one of them most valuable things that someone has said to me in my career.  I started to think about it.  How could I work smart?  There were lots of things about what we did that didn’t really make sense to me.  How could I make that better?  I had just picked up what I was shown how to do and never questioned if there might be a smarter way.  Maybe finding shortcuts wasn’t lazy, maybe it was smart.

I was free to try brand new things with the process of recruiting.  The next job opening I decided we would engage the hiring managers.  We were tasked with hiring a large group of IT people all at one time.  I decided to advertise for an open house.  Candidates were to come with their resumes and be prepared to meet with the hiring managers.  We had food and beverages for the candidates. We provided areas where they could learn about the company and the jobs we were filling.  Candidates had the opportunity to meet with the hiring managers.  We hammered out a week’s worth of work by the old “process” in a 4 hour evening event.  We made multiple hires from this first event and it was a process that we continued to use successfully for several years.

This position on working smart is a principle I try to use to this day.  Are there things in your job that could be done more effectively?  Were you trained on processes that you have followed but they don’t really make sense to you?  See what happens if you spend some time thinking about how you could be smarter about what you do every day.  We would love to hear what happens.

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