Monday, June 13, 2011

Selecting Someone To Stand Up For Your Community

In the 1980s it dawned on me while talking to a hotel executive that many people, in his business, connected more to the career of working in hotels in general than they ever really connected to the specific hotel where they work or the community where it is located, the ultimate reason for any traveler’s stay.

This also makes far too many people in the field of my now concluded nearly four-decade career seem so “generic.” They never truly represent any specific community, they just work in community/destination marketing in general.

This is the same difference between someone who is engaged and an observer, a rancher and a hired hand, a sworn police officer and a security guard, a voter and a resident, an owner and an occupant, a fan and a spectator, an achiever and someone focused on entitlement or seniority, an excellent employee and a transient.

Still good people, I suspect, and probably good workers but they tend not to be really invested or as fully committed or as passionate or as determined or as willing to take risks or show courage as others with a deeper connection to where they work.

I’ve seen far too many examples of this phenomenon to believe it is just that these folks haven’t found the right niche, the right place or the right circumstance.

These are the folks who seem to always be looking over the horizon. They are the folks at “learning events” such as annual conventions who are there more to network future job opportunities than to accrue learning.

It also never occurs to them that the learning they do glean on their employers dime is supposed to be beneficial to their employer, not just their career.

So if I were charged with selecting the best person to represent a community through visitor-centric economic and cultural development, here are a dozen top-of-mind things for which I would look during interviews and in case studies:

  • Can the candidates tick off what was truly unique or distinct about the communities, past or current, for whom they have worked or do they just tick off mainstream elements that are far too common to many places?

  • In their current or past communities, did they embrace the home team(s) or just continue to cheer for their alma mater or where their kids go to school?

  • Are they able to understand and convey how important a past community’s core identity is or are they interested only in discussing the more superficial marketing elements such as sales or advertising.

  • Are they vested in the community they represent or have represented or just the activities of community marketing in general?

  • Can they give you specific examples of how their work improved their current or past communities, how they defended their communities, benefited their communities or do they just focus so narrowly on superficial and incomplete homilies such as heads in beds or butts in seats?

  • Are they eager to give past examples of best practices or innovations with which they have been involved and ways in which their field has changed or do they just fall back on outdated, old-school clich├ęs?

  • Are they seeking a place about which they can be passionate or just a job or a rung on a ladder, do they empathize with spirited underdogs or just want to be top dog?

  • Have they studied your community and can they tell you what makes it unique and special and are their perspectives superficial and mainstream or more temporal core strengths and personality traits?

  • Are they able to admit something to do with their job that made them angry in the past or describe a failure and is it all about what someone else did or how they could have performed better?

  • Can they describe times in the past when they showed passion and courage on behalf of a past or current community and is their description unpretentious and genuine?

  • Are they interested in what makes your community tick or just filling a spot on the roster?

  • Did they push for or achieve accreditation for their organizations in current or past positions, are they readers and seekers of best practices or do they rely far too much on personal opinions?

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