As per my last two months’ posts, Truth in Customer Service and Truth-in-Customer-Service-Part-II, there was discussion on hiring for the right attitudes. I have specifically suggested this as it relates to lift operators, but it has broader application relating to all the other jobs in mountain operations. In another post I shared the story of a lift mechanic that had the skill set but didn’t really want to work hours other than 9-5 and did not like the cold, My-lift-mechanic-works-9-to-5-and-doesnt-like-the-cold. This is a great example of identifying the attitude not just focusing on skills. Inc Magazine had a recent article , The Fine Art of People by Leigh Buchanan, that has a great quote which to me hits the mark, “ Mediocre hires are like empty calories: They make you bigger but less healthy.” Not saying the complete article is totally relevant but makes very strong points for my position.
Another quote from an article by Carolyn Dewar and Scott Keller in Harvard Business Review: “Our research indicates that high-performing cultures are characterized by an ability to align (gain clarity on vision, strategy, and shared employee behaviors), execute (move in the agreed-upon direction with minimal friction), and renew (continuously improve at a pace that exceeds competitors) ?three factors we also refer to as organizational health (1).” The phrase in this quote that I’d suggest targeting on is “an ability to align (shared employee behaviors)”. What does this mean? Simplistically – having everyone on the same page. So how does that start? Let’s assume that there exists within your company a clear set of company values and principles and that the mountain ops departments have a clear common strategy. The job at hand is to take each position within the area of mountain operations and define the best attitudes and emotional quotients for each position and then define the skills needed to do each job. If you can align the shared employee behaviors for each area you have the potential for having a healthy organizational culture as well as a more productive group. I have previously written an article on the lift maintenance department at Steamboat Ski Resort, this is an excellent example of aligned shared employee behaviors and the resulting good work of the team.
Not saying this is easy but I’d argue also not that hard. If the snowmaking manager sat down thinking through as to what attributes make a good snowmaker, he/she would come up with a very definitive list of clear behavioral attributes that define the “good snowmaker”. This same process would apply to lift ops, grooming, terrain park, ski patrol, vehicle maintenance and lift maintenance. Yes the attributes would be different by department but you’d have defined attributes by department. This can go much broader than just mountain operations of course, this could be done for all positions at a ski resort.
The next step is a bit more challenging. How do you interview or gain insight into what a job applicant’s attitudes and emotional quotients are? You can Google the question, or more suitable for overall company organizational health would be to sit down with your HR department and develop the questions and method for scoring that would provide you with the right candidates. There is no downplaying skill in this process, but having the most skilled person at a position with incompatible attitudes won’t work, for you, your staff, and most importantly, for the skiers and riders.
Take some time now – develop the list of attributes, work with your HR department and make your life much easier this winter, and also improve the department’s performance.
(1) – Dewar, C., & Keller, S. (2012, January 26). Three Steps to a High-Performance Culture. Retrieved July 6, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2012/01/three-steps-to-a-high-performa.html