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Lessons from the best doorman

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

In progressive communities, leaders recognise and award ordinary people for extraordinary contributions. One such award was for the mundane job of the best doorman in the city.

Speaking after receiving the award, the doorman recalled his poor and desperate upbringing, which deprived him of formal education. He had been fortunate to receive the unstinting love, guidance, support and blessings of his mother.

On being asked what drove him to work so well and so hard, he replied, "I knew my lack of education, job experience and grooming, made it almost impossible to get a decent job. So when I got this break, to work as a doorman at this respectable hotel I gave it my very best and dedicated myself to my responsibilities."

The doorman was always professional. He was sharp, helpful, and courteous and made almost everyone's day a pleasant one. He maintained the lobby, the porch, the main door, etc. of the hotel in pristine condition. He remembered the names and preferences of guests, he was always warm and helpful without being familiar. He was helpful and considerate of all the staff and vendors too.

Representatives from a placement agency present at the same award ceremony recalled receiving almost a decade earlier the man's application for any available job. Using their professional evaluation techniques they concluded that he was unfit for any kind of job. They rejected his application, each time he had applied for a job.

Curiously, 'how could a man considered unsuitable and unfit for any job, consistently deliver outstanding performance over 10 years period? A man recruited temporarily became an organisation's most respected employee, generating invaluable goodwill for his employer.'

The answer is 'good values'. A well-trained and supported person can deliver outstanding results. However, if a well-qualified person possesses an unethical and weak character, and a poor value system will almost always produce substandard results.

Unable or unwilling to evaluate the character of individuals and compatibility of values between potential employees and employers themselves are compelled to use mainly technical qualifications and work experience to recruit people.

Over-management removes all subjectivity and focuses purely on objective analysis.

It's easier to evaluate certificates and qualifications than to judge nature and character, particularly if the persons judging, are themselves biased.

Organisations then try to instil in employees values, nature, ethics and character. They spend a fortune fruitlessly to obtain poor results in getting people to perform in a certain way.

Research reveals that our values are acquired almost completely at home by the age of 8, after that it is difficult to change. This is why trying to change the value system of an individual is usually a waste of effort, time and money.

As demonstrated by the example of the best doorman, a person with good values and work ethic, can be trained, but a trained person with inferior values and poor work ethic is difficult if not impossible to be made a good performer. (The exception could be an employee who works in almost total isolation).

In the world of work, we are judged by what we deliver not by what we possess. Technical qualifications, degrees and diplomas by themselves deliver nothing, it is the efforts and commitment of the trained person with good values that deliver great results.

Does this mean that the system the world has been using with these flaws should be discarded? Modified certainly.

The concern is not restricted to employer-employee relations but also to selecting a mate or building a sports team etc. Crucial also in selecting business or social partners and associates.

Having highlighted the concern I shall in subsequent articles expand on possible solutions providing real-life examples.


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