My Dog Is Not A Rock Star – Does Your Employee Have To Be?

Gypsy, the pit bull-lab-rottweiler-who know what else-mix

Yesterday I took all four – yes, four – of my dogs to the vet for routine care, like vaccines and wellness exams. They each weigh around 40 pounds and the bill was enormous.  During the exam, the vet asked the same kind of questions your doctor does during a routine physical, trying to determine if there are any issues or problems that need to be addressed.

During the exam of Gypsy, who was rescued from an abandoned crack house in an ugly part of the city of Detroit, it occurred to me that she has never had any physical problems at all.  She has never thrown up on my carpet or floor, never had kennel cough (despite plenty of exposure in closed quarters to other dogs), and never has ugly gunk running out of an eye.  I will admit that she had a genetic defect (luxating patella) when she was very young, which had to be surgically repaired, but that knee has never given her, or me, a stitch of trouble since. Even her teeth looked the best of the pack, per the vet, even though she is the second-oldest.

My other dogs are Border Collies.  BCs, as we are fond of calling them, are premier athletes.  They play silly dog games like agility, disc dog, and flyball (my game of choice).  They are considered the smartest breed of dog in the world.  They are rock stars of the doggie world.

These rock stars can have health issues, though.  Vomit, kennel cough, eye infections, torn or ripped pads and toenails – my dogs have had or done them all.  One dog has a mysterious arthritic condition in his spine that required two MRI tests and means monthly visits to the chiropractor.  Don’t even ask about the costs.

Gypsy doesn’t play flyball or any other silly doggie sport, but she is loving, energetic, and devoted – the perfect companion dog.

So, to the recruiters and HR pros of the world who might read this, I ask a favor:  The next time you need to hire an employee, think about whether you REALLY need to hire a rock star.  I know the market is buyer friendly right now, so you can get big talent for less money.    Rock stars can do amazing things, but at what cost – particularly in the long term – to you and your organization?

Non-rock stars need and deserve good jobs, too. They may come from humble circumstances without a fancy degree, and they may need a little coaching or patience in the beginning as they find their way in your organization.  The long term return on investment will be substantial, though, and you will find yourself with a rock-solid, devoted employee.

Or would you rather have an employee that burns more brightly for a shorter period of time, with substantial upkeep costs thrown in?

Ike the Border Collie playing flyball
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7 thoughts on “My Dog Is Not A Rock Star – Does Your Employee Have To Be?”

  1. This is a good point, Amy, and I am pretty sure I wasn’t personally branding myself as such, thank goodness. Help me with a similar problem, though:

    If we don’t want to use over-worked,annoying “buzz words” (or maybe buzz phrases like that one), how do we make our point as quickly and effectively as bloggers?

    I didn’t have to explain to you or any other reader what I meant by “rock star”, but I’ll be damned if I could think of another phrase that conveyed my intent as quickly and effectively. After all, isn’t why these phrases or words become so popular in the first place?

    You are a writer, so help me out, PLEASE. :)

  2. Joan- Great perspective/ I couldn’t agree more.. You are speaking for so many including myself that are for hire,. We just want a great place to land,to do what we love, and to make an honest living. I am hopeful this will be the year to land softly. There are so many qualified folks who need a break. Looking forward to giving you a great big hug at HRevolution.

  3. Interesting prospective, especially for smaller who employers who are further down the food chain and rarely get a chance to land the rock stars. For the most part we have make our own rock stars to get by. Thus we have to staff our facilies with the Gypsy’s of the world(although very few actully come from crack houses). Thanks Joan!

  4. Shennee – it IS sad that so many great potentials are not even given a chance. Hang in there for a while longer because I really think things are improving – even in Detroit! Big hug!

    Dave – I am a small employer advocate and so my sensitivities are definitely in that direction. In your case (and my former case) add low food service profit margins into the mix and we really have to be creative. People that work food service HR have a special place in my heart.

  5. Thanks for your thought-provoking post, Joan. (And dog-related to boot!) I’ve often thought of similar concepts and often think a mix of different kinds of talent is ideal. At a small organization like mine, superstar talent often doesn’t stick around, so it wouldn’t be prudent to try to attract a whole fleet of them, even if I were able. The non-rockstars (worker bees? roadies? what do we call them?) remind me more of the tortoise and the hare story. Slow and steady wins the race, right? But we don’t want all tortoises either. They steadily work toward their goal, but they are rarely very creative, visionary or innovative.

    I will definitely hire the small nonprofit equivalent of rockstar talent when I can, knowing full well they’ll be gone in less than two years but that they may make a lasting impact while they’re there. I think it’s useful to have a mix of both extremes and everything in between.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Krista. Balance is almost always a good thing, in just about everything we do. I certainly wouldn’t trade my BCs for anything, and I would never hesitate to get another (when I have more room).

    I do think the larger companies (and their third party recruiters), have, in large measure, forgotten about the Gypsy and hare candidates, though. Because right now, they can.

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