Tell your story, we want to hear it…

A recipe for understanding people’s stories.

I have been fortunate enough to be part of a company that keeps transforming constantly at a pace that keeps everyone embracing change as a normal part of evolution.  During this evolution I have been surrounded at all levels by brilliant and energetic colleagues who have contributed to my growth in so many ways.   

I have never been good at embracing my story, but when I lost my mother, I started reflecting on my time with her and how she influenced me.  By looking back at these memories, I encountered a feeling of passion for what I do and how relevant I can be for the stories of those around me.

During this evolution we have been taught that in order to motivate our teams we must understand them and know what motivates them and what they seem to understand as their purpose in life.  Recently, maybe because of my love for cooking, I started to look at the teams I was part of as a recipe and the members of the team as ingredients who contribute with their own flavor.  Most of these flavors will have a bigger impact when they mix with the other flavors and create a unique experience for the senses.

In this quest for the right recipe for a specific situation, I have decided to modify the way I approach job interviews of new applicants by stepping away from the traditional questions like everyone’s favorite “where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” What I do first, is read their CV with a holistic approach and try to understand their story.  In this process there will be blank spots that I try to fill in during the interview but by understanding the emotions that influence the actions at any specific moment of their professional career, this will help me figure out their “flavor” and how they can fit into the “recipe”. After a couple of years of following this practice, I have come across some remarkable stories that I will share below. 

Justin* is a vibrant man with an amazing smile and a positive attitude.  He did not have a strong academic background but was highly recommended by his previous leaders. I noticed that in his CV, over a period of 5 months he had moved from being a “general worker” to a salesman in a car dealership.  I asked him about this, and he explained to me that he was the person in charge of keeping all the cars in the showroom clean.  During his daily chores, he enjoyed interacting with the customers and talking to them about what they were looking for.  He managed to close a couple of sales and they promoted him to a salesman.

Mary* was an HR assistant who wanted to work in operations with no background or academic history to support her application. I noticed on her CV that she was a chef who managed to pay her way through college by waitressing in one of the busiest restaurants in town.  After that she went to work on a cruise ship where she started as a clerk and was promoted to an administrative position where she had to deal with the migration requirements of all the crew to comply with government regulations of all visiting ports.

I interviewed Jorge* for a sales supervisor position at an industrial supplies company I used to work for.  This position required strong management skills.  He had no experience in sales and no college degree.  Looking at his CV, I found out that he was a bar manager for more than 4 years at one of the most popular clubs in town at that time.  I asked him to go into detail about his tasks in this position and he explained to me the level of detail he needed in order to keep track of the inventory to ensure that the bar kept making money.  He turned out to be a brilliant administrator with a high focus on client satisfaction.

All three of these stories have passion, self discipline and love for what they have accomplished professionally.  All three of them went on to become driving leaders within the teams that I managed by playing a crucial role in the transformation we were undergoing at the time.  Also, I have learned a lot from them about collaboration and work ethics.  We keep in contact as over the years, we have built strong ties.  I continue my path of meeting people and knowing more about their stories and how their “flavors” create the perfect recipe.


*Names have been changed


Author: Ricardo Mock

Africa 24/7 Marine Manager at Maersk Line, Cape Town. Psychologist, Certified Crossfit Trainer, Health Coach and Motivator. Experience working in Project Management (Operations, Human Resources and Sales), innovation driving change. Specialties: Project Management, Sales, General Operations, Lean Six Sigma (LSS GB Certified), ERP´s implementation and Change Management. MBTI Profile: ENFP-T

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