My favorite season by far is autumn. I love the smell of the air that first day when the weather breaks, and the undercurrent of anticipation as people prepare for fall festivities and the winter holiday season.
So when my husband suggested a family camping trip to Harper’s Ferry with our 2.5 year old son, I quickly agreed and began to conjure images of idyllic family bonding moments around the campfire and on the wooded trails. As with life, personal or business, things never seem to go exactly as imagined; but with a bit of planning, patience, and ingenuity, great memories and great work can be created.
1- Organize your camping gear before you go
As the sun is setting and you are trying to make a fire for dinner, not knowing the location of the matches, or in what foot locker you placed the lantern, will not only waste precious daylight hours but will most likely result in some tension amongst you and your significant other. While planning (or lack thereof) didn’t help us on Friday night, by Saturday we had organized our camping gear and provisions appropriately into the three footlockers and even revised the system before we left on Sunday, so we are much more prepared for our next trip.
Takeaway: Organization at the outset can be the difference between a good or great hire for your team. When you have an opening on your team, organizing your hiring process, obtaining participation from your team, and taking a good hard look at what skills and what gaps you have on that team, will make the hiring process and on-boarding process move much faster and more efficiently.
2- Don’t rely exclusively on GPS to get you to the campsite
As we crossed over the Potomac River (for a third time) trying to make sense of where our GPS was leading us, we decided to break out the old paper map stand-by to get our bearings and locate a possible campsite. Then low and behold, street signs pointed us to the Harper’s Ferry KOA, which not only had a perfect little campsite in the woods, but a mini-golf, moon bounce, playground, café, and pancake hut.
Takeaway: In the recruitment and hiring world filled with multiple social networks, online job boards, and complex applicant tracking systems, sometimes your best-fit candidates can be missed while right in front of you. Technology can be a great tool, but shouldn’t replace personal networks, common sense, and a thorough interview process.
3-Get buy-in before you set up your tent
As we arrived at our campsite, around 4:30 on Friday afternoon, my husband decided he would take the lead on setting up the 1975 Coleman tent passed down from his parents. I was tasked with settling up at registration, which was followed by an impromptu but much-needed session at the playground with our son. Upon my return, my husband was proudly standing next to the fully-assembled tent looking for my approval and congratulations on a job well done.
My actual response: “Wow. You set it up already. Isn’t it a little close to the fire pit and picnic table? Maybe we could just move it over and down a little? I can help. Let me help you.”
His response (edited for expletives): “I knew you would say that! I knew I should have waited for you to come back.”
The next 45 tension-filled minutes found me (us) moving the tent two more times until we agreed upon the most acceptable position.
Takeaway: My husband will never set up the tent without my buy –in, and you as a hiring manager or leader should make sure you include and take into consideration the needs and opinions of key team members and executive leadership when planning for your next hire. For the sake of the team, the company, your efforts, and the candidate’s time, it is important to fully understand what is needed for your projects and team in the next hire.
4-Be creative when you forget the frying pan
You can actually make pancakes (ok, a pancake) in a sauce pan. If you forget the frying pan, and were really looking forward to a breakfast of pancakes, be creative and go with what you have. The first pancake my husband cooked in a frying pan was not a huge success, but each pancake thereafter got better and better, and we enjoyed our Saturday morning pancake breakfast as planned.
Takeaway: When you have the opportunity to make a strategic hire, or even back-fill a position, you also have the opportunity to look at the strengths and potential of your existing team. If you have a client that is coming to you for a mobile application or the addition of social media channels to an online marketing campaign, maybe you have a Web Developer or PR Coordinator on your team who is just itching for the chance to take on just such a project. So be creative when you are looking to fill that new position, and consider your current assets prior to going out to the market.
5-Don’t worry so much about “the rules”
S’mores for breakfast and slightly burned chicken “hobo packets” were in fact acceptable as part of the fun of our family camping trip. My husband reminded me as I was about to argue with our 2.5 year old: “Don’t be so hard on him. We are camping. Let him have the S’mores for breakfast. Relax.”
Takeaway: The same can be true when it comes to the workplace. As long as there are no laws being broken or ethics being compromised, be ok with bending or allowing the rules to be bent a little. Treat your team members, especially those who report to you, with trust in their abilities and positive guidance to set them up for success. And pick your battles. Know what issues / rules really need to be enforced to get projects completed and keep the work flowing, and let the little things slide.
6- Listen and Enjoy the little moments and discoveries
As we were heading out on our Harper’s Ferry /Maryland Height’s hike on Sunday, my son was babbling away; asking tons of questions about the foot bridge we were crossing over and the rushing Potomac beneath, the types of people and animals we were seeing as we hiked along. Not trying to dampen his enthusiasm, but looking for a bit of a break from the constant chatter, my husband and I asked him if he could:
“Be very quiet for a couple of minutes and listen. Listen to the wind in the leaves, the water rushing over the rocks, the crunching of fallen leaves. Just listen.”
Takeaway: Too often in the workplace, during an important leadership or client meeting, or while conducting an interview, we are thinking of the next thing we are going to say; the next fact or figure we are going to present; the next question we are going to ask. What we miss is the opportunity to listen to others.
In really listening to another person, we could actually learn something that would impact a decision, project, or program, or allow us to more fully relate to a co-worker or customer leading to a stronger team or a better product or service. Listening tends to be one of the most important yet under-valued communication skills (I rarely see it listed in a client job description), but it can lead to powerful moments, creative breakthroughs, and major discoveries.
So, all in all, a great Fall Camping weekend with my family; not the perfect picture I had conjured in my mind, but a lot of lessons learned, many S’mores consumed, and some pretty great memories made despite my son waking up the camp with a temper tantrum on Sunday morning. And it gave me the creative inspiration to write this blog—an added bonus.
Profiles is a unique staffing firm specializing in Marketing employment, Creative, and Web & IT jobs. Since 1998, we have served the needs of our Clients and Talent by matching the best candidates with the best companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Author Name – Stephanie Ranno
Title – Branch Manager
Location – Baltimore, MD
Twitter – @stephranno
Byline – Stephanie has spent the last 7 years in the creative recruiting and staffing industry, building relationships with amazing talent and innovative corporations. At the core she is a renaissance gal, who thrives with too many things on her plate. Hence: student of emerging media trends, manager of an outstanding recruitment team, local actress on the stages of Baltimore, certified group fitness instructor, and wife and mother (though last, certainly not least in importance)