Posted on March 27, 2009 by Dennis Snow
Every job requires a special blend of skills and talents if the job is to be done masterfully. At the Starbucks near my home, one of the "baristas" epitomizes the concept of right fit talent. While all of the baristas do a fine job, James stands out through his uncanny knowledge of customer names and their favorite beverages.
While Starbucks emphasizes this in their training, James takes it way beyond what can be trained. He prepares beverages for customers even before they walk in the door, having seen them walking in from the parking lot. He knows the names of customers' family members and keeps up a running banter even when it's busy, including just about everyone in the discussion. Talk about right fit talent.
There are bad, average, and outstanding coffee shop employees, engineers, dentists, accountants, custodians, and presidents. The outstanding ones not only possess the necessary skills for their jobs, they appear to be born for their roles. Excellence seems to come naturally to these individuals, and everyone around them can see that someone special is at work. The trick is to discover the qualities of these special performers and find other people just like them. Unfortunately, these special qualities are different for every job and for every company's culture, so you can't simply develop a single set of job criteria and apply those criteria to any position. Through observation and analysis, however, you can discover the unique talents possessed by outstanding performers in a particular role. It's certainly worth the effort.