How to Spot a Winner Early On

Good employees are easy to spot if you know what to look for.
Boss shaking hands with new employee.

If you have a business to run, you need to find good employees who can make a contribution right away. Of course they’ll need training before they reach maximum effectiveness, but they need to be able to add some kind of productive value to the team right from the start.

Winners may start off barely competent at something, but they learn fast. They find little ways to contribute right from the beginning.

Losers are like leaky tires. As soon as you pump them up, they go flat again.

Losers are like leaky tires. As soon as you pump them up, they go flat again. Click To Tweet

You Have to be Fussy to be Excellent

We spend most of our time with people who are slow to learn, and we wind up having to repeat ourselves and explain things over and over again just so they will get it.

Most people really aren’t that sharp and don’t pay that much attention while you’re talking. Their minds wander. They generally pay attention, but they don’t specifically pay attention.

It doesn’t relate so much to their intelligence as it does to their attitude. They may be “into it”, but they just aren’t really “into it”. So, they don’t pay attention all that closely.

You give them a job to do, and you describe to them how to do it. They more or less do it, but it won’t be quite right. And, it will require you to go back in and catch the missing details, point them out, and get them fixed. It’s very annoying and time-consuming for you, and the other person thinks you’re being a nitpicker.

Modern kitchen with white cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

I’ve heard this described as being “fussy”, but the truth is you have to be fussy to be excellent. You have to be specific.

You have to do things exactly the way they need to be done for people to be satisfied.

For example, when people spend weeks researching and finally picking the exact refrigerator model and color they want for their house, they don’t want to order it and have the store ship out just any refrigerator in any color. They want the specific refrigerator in the specific color that they selected.

This isn’t hard to understand. Yet, all over the world, I’ll promise you, the wrong refrigerators are being delivered to houses every day.

Houses are painted the wrong color, the wrong furniture is shipped, stylists give the wrong haircut—it never ends. This happens in every aspect of business.

Don’t Waste Time on the Wrong People

People change, but they don’t change overnight.

It’s great to have a loving heart and want to help people, but you can only afford that luxury if you are successful. Add too many overly needy duds to your team, and you’ll soon get bogged down and drown.

Unless you know what to look for, you’ll be fooled.

They come up to you, and they look and talk just like a winner—bright-eyed, energetic, and full of questions.

You give them a bunch of information, give them some ideas, and send them on their way excited to see what they do.

But the next time you see them, they haven’t done anything yet. They just have more questions for you.

Person raising hand to ask a question in classroom.

Every time you see them, you find out they have done absolutely nothing on their own since they left you. They just have more and more questions and are eager to waste your time answering nonsense.

If they didn’t do anything with the first batch of information you gave them, chances are they will never work. It proves they really weren’t in a hurry to do anything, to go anywhere, or to accomplish anything.

They have this great lie—they tell themselves that they are just really conscientious and want to really get educated before they venture out to work. But, I can tell you from experience, they almost never reach that stage of having “enough” training.

They were just curiosity seekers looking for another form of entertainment. They liked having new friends, a place to go, a position to fill, but they weren’t there to work. And, if you are running a business, you really don’t have time for them.

They are friendly, smiling leaches that suck the life and energy out of the precious few hours of time you have each week to build your business. You can’t afford to have them around.

Add Productive People to Your Team

A winner is somebody who comes in bright-eyed, full of energy, and asks a lot of questions. You give them a few answers and off to the races they go . . . going to work, getting things done.

They actually remember things you tell them. The next time you see them, they’ve got plenty to talk about. They did this, they did that, they’ve started to pick up some speed, and, of course, they’ve got more questions—questions that came from applying the information you gave them last time.

People who take you seriously right from the start are the ones you can build with and do bigger things.

People who take you seriously right from the start are the ones you can build with and do bigger things. Click To Tweet


Good Employees Learn Fast

A fun thing about winners is how quick they catch on.

I’ve always noticed that when you get the right person to show up to fill a position, things click. Good employees grab onto the details lightning fast from the start.

In fact, by the end of the week, you often find they are getting more done than the person they are replacing that you’ve had in the office for 9 months.

What makes them different?

The primary difference is that good employees care more about what they are doing than others—that causes them to pay more attention to exactly what you tell them. They remember what you tell them, they follow through exactly what you explain to them because they are motivated to get it done right. They enjoy doing things right. 

That’s how winners think. They can’t even imagine doing something in a half-hearted, haphazard way. That’s what makes them such an incredible joy to find and be able to bring into your business or circle of friends and associates.

You’re able to spend your time actually getting things done rather than spending a huge percentage of your time circling back and fixing something that should have been done right the first time.

Challenge Potential Winners

Contained campfire.

When you spot a potential winner, give them a special challenge.

It’s like building a fire. As soon as you see a spark, fan the flames. Give them something to sink their teeth into, and see how they respond.

You can give them little things or a big goal. The main things you are looking for are their response and their energy.

The point is not to ask them something they can’t do—it’s to wake them up to new, bigger, more exciting goals  and expand their vision for what’s possible. You are giving them a gift. It’s a chance for them to find out about things and abilities inside of them that maybe have never had a chance to come out.

Their response will show you their potential. If they get excited about working on something challenging, you know a certain new magic has entered into your business.

It elevates them from thinking in terms of working to a mindset of racing towards something much bigger. In effect, you are giving them permission to go bigger right from the start. This is a chance for them to surprise themselves and surprise you with how well they do.

. . .

While losers drag you down, winners are a pleasure to have around and make everything a lot more fun because it’s fun to get things done and grow.

Your time is limited. Spend it on the people who deserve and appreciate it!

Your time is limited. Spend it on the people who deserve and appreciate it! Click To Tweet

I’ll bet you thought of some personal experiences while reading this. Please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear. 

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