Maybe You Should Have Been an Actuary?
You can’t “build” enthusiasm or energy or humor or courtesy. I believe these are intrinsic traits. People motivate themselves, you can’t motivate them. You can’t even intimidate them, people choose to be intimidated. (That’s why standing up to a bully will almost always overcome the bully, because it’s your decision to allow yourself to be bullied.)
A woman who works in a local coffee shop—on a competitive street with a dozen coffee shops—never says “please” or “thank you” or even looks happy to see you at 7 am. She seems to regard you as a disruption in her morning. As much as I like the shop owner and enjoy the place otherwise, I’m considering not going there during her shifts any more. Why start my day that way? My experience is that you can’t improve this kind of personality. Feedback is resented or ignored.
I’ve always advised clients to hire energy and passion. They can teach the new employee all about the content of the business. If you hire a “business expert” without those traits, you’ll never be able to create them in that person, because they aren’t teachable or coachable.
Maybe that’s a cynical attitude on my part. But when I encounter a restaurant hostess whose job it is to greet people and make them feel welcomed, yet who merely seats them and slaps down some menus, I’m wondering if the owner ever considers that that job is more important than the owner’s in terms of customer retentions and referrals.
The doorman at a hotel is the first and last person you encounter. His attitude is a lot more important than the hotel manager’s in terms of customer happiness.