6: Dive into the Labor Pool

The author suggests that the selection process for service workers is not very effective: the hiring manager talks a bit about the company and position, but largely goes on his first impression of a candidate and his gut instinct. First impressions are very important, especially because most customers will not spend more than a few moments with the employee, but you need to dig deeper than that.

Later, he considers that the divorce rate in this country is over 50%, and that the average couple dates for three years before getting married. So it should come as no surprise that a 30-minute interview isn't effective in finding people who are a right fit for your business.

There is a list of loose facts: many people (about a quarter) admit to lying on an application, and candidates are coached on interviewing to give answers that are likely to make a positive impression regardless of their true feelings. Their main goal is to land a job, and few are thinking further than that.

(EN: that seems a bit cynical, but considering most service jobs are low-wage positions for inexperienced workers, chances are they are willing to be a bit deceptive and are not looking at the position as a career move. There was even a term coined for this - service positions are considered "McJobs", done to earn a little cash, generally while working on your education or looking for something better.)

The Best Hire

Primarily, you should seek to retain the employees you already have. Their experience and skills are a value, and you should seek to reduce turnover rather than gain proficiency in hiring new employees. Keep them happy.

In addition to retention, happy employees are the best recruiting tool. People talk about their jobs, and if they have nothing good to say, word gets out and nobody wants to work for you. On the other hand, if they're happy, word still gets out, and people will come in to apply even when you're not hiring.

The "help wanted" sign in a shop window should be regarded as a "banner of shame." To the customer, it tells them you're short-handed and service will be rotten. To the prospect, it indicates that you're desperate for help, not very resourceful in finding people, and are too cheap even to buy a classified ad.

It's also noted that some companies seek to hire their customers, which is a good idea: if a person is a customer, they know the expectations of other customers.


The author starts with an anecdote about his grandson, and notes that there are significant differences between them. A "generation" is about 25 years and that people who are otherwise similar in terms of gender, race, culture, location, etc. have pronounced differences in culture from generation to generation.

(EN: I've read that it's 15 years, and growing shorter, as evolution accelerates - there are even those who draw a line down the middle of a generation and point to marked differences between "early" and "late." This seems reasonable, as it's a matter of lifestyle. People born in the 1400s had much the same culture as people born a century earlier because little changed. Nowadays, people born ten years apart have different life experiences, and different cultures.)

The author also points to cultural differences in race. It's not just pigmentation, and people of different races have entirely different experiences: only 1/3 of black households have both parents in the home, half of all Asians have a college degree, and the income of histpanic households has increased over 300% in a single decade. These factors have a marked inpact on culture.

Ask a boomer to describe a Gen Yer and you might hear "no common sense, no work ethic, no clue." But that would be wrong. For all their faults (boomers had none), Gen Yers have plenty to offer as long as it is offered on their terms.

This causes some conflict among generations -those who are older, and in positions of authority, are disappointed in younger generations because they are different, and they perceive this to be worse: young people have no common sense, no work ethic, etc. But they are also much more loyal, quick thinking, and able to multitask than their elders.

A specific example: a young employee is going to react poorly to the prospect of wearing a uniform and mouthing a memorized sales patter. Btu give them a goal (with a reward) and some basic information, and they will adapt and improvise in ways that will astound and amaze.

Differences Matter

The author provides a table that show some of the differences between the four most recent generations (silent, boomer, genX, and genY) - admittedly, broad generalizations, but not without some basis in statistical fact.

The point being that people will not adopt your culture, you must seek to understand theirs, and understand that employees will need different motivation, and will react differently, when asked to do the same task (clean a restroom, work overtime without notice, some in over the weekend, deal with an obnoxious customer. etc.)