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The Stinky Goop Test

Quick one this week, guys. Since I wrote the post about hiring “I’m on it” people, I’m pretty much always devising ways to screen for these qualities in candidates. You know, On It People are Persistent, Entrepreneurial, Accountable, Conscientious, Natural Leaders. I want to grow them in my back yard.

Here’s a creative way to identify them, courtesy of Ian Alexander, Founder at Eat Media. Ian and I were having drinks a couple weeks ago and we got on to the topic of “owner mentality.”

Ian used this analogy:

“ You know when you lift the trash out and there’s all this stinky goop in the bottom of the can?”

(Yes, I’m familiar with the stinky goop.)

“ Well, an owner will scoop out the bottom of the can and an employee will just put in a new bag.”

Pretty much sums it up, right?

The world is filled with people who think “Not my problem.” Leave the goop for the next guy.

On It People, who aspire to be owners one day, have the curse of thinking: This can be done better, and I’m capable. So here we go.

I’m not suggesting you ask interview candidates to take out the trash. That would be weird. It’s a gut feel thing. Do they support the company vision and image? Are the interested in being a key contributor? Are they compelled to fix careless, shoddy work? Are they stinky goop wipers or leavers?

One last thought: If you’ve had the good fortune and judgment of hiring On It People, make sure you keep them by rewarding their ownership tendencies. Give them projects and responsibilities that they can manage independently and encourage them to make their own decisions. This will foster a culture of employees who will treat your company as if it were their own.

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