Think of the typical, hard-selling recruitment ad. Great working conditions. Fast advancement. Friendly co-workers. Although it’s everything a prospective employee could want, most ads get few responses and fewer good ones.
Now consider what may be the most contrarian help wanted ad ever run:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
Not much of a sell job is it? Nevertheless, when this ad was run by the polar explorer, Ernest Shackelton, men started walking across England to get to him. More than 5,000 applied.
Why does all the selling in the world fail to generate great response in one case and in the other the promise of hardship and suffering start a nation walking? To answer that question you need to think about why great people come to work in the morning.
A lot of good people come to work in the morning because they need a paycheck. They give you eight good hours every day and go home. Great people are different. They want their paycheck but they also want more. They want to feel that they are doing great things when they come to work every day. Their job–whatever it is–is part of how they realize their potential in their own eyes. They also want to know that you appreciate their commitment, skills and effort. That’s what made Ernest Shackleton one of the great leaders of all time.
The men that responded to that ad wound up stranded on the polar ice for two years eating penguins. But they all came through safely. When Shackleton announced his next expedition they all came back. A far cry from people who go into a funk when the Coke machine is out of Fanta orange.
In my experience, great people want to do great things. The German poet Goethe admonished us to “Dream no small dreams. because they have no power to move the hearts of men”. Dream big dreams for your business and invite your employees to share them. Not just for scale and sales but for quality, innovation and service. The best people will always want to be part of your team.