Raw intellect isn’t enough. Just like product market fit we need to see person-job fit. How can we test it? Good people with drive and patience for change and a healthy sense of duty seem to be able to adjust to nearly any job for a short period. We can all do any job for six months and knock it out of the park.
I think about a particular interview where I left so excited about the candidate. They were quirky, but thoughtfully engaged. They grasped what we did here and why it was important. They thirsted for new knowledge and challenge. They were young and ambitious. No work experience of any kind.
But when he arrived it was an utter let down. The focus wasn’t on getting as good as possible as quickly as possible but rather maintaining balance at all times. Never pushing himself to be in the trenches with his brethren in times as the pressure bore down on them or let the passion take him deep into the night when we feel the torment of an unfinished idea demanding completion.
All the raw materials were there. What did I miss? If we hire someone with no work history, does the onboarding process need to be different? Do we need to teach them not only how to do the job but also how to be an employee? What expectations did we set to encourage him to rise to be great?
I cannot move past my disappointment. I signed off on him. I had high expectations. Though not my direct report, I provided course corrections. As time continues to march on the disappointment builds. I notice the small improvements but never the grand about-face for which I hold out hope. That one day when he will wake up, open his eyes to observe and finally be dissatisfied with his mediocrity.