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The right peopleBe thankful for the people like Skeeter in your business.

It’s worth the effort to find the people in your organization who best represent your core values – wherever they are.

Meet Skeeter from Holiday Inn Express Paducah West, in Paducah, KY.

Yep, Skeeter – that’s her name. Sure, it’s not as unique as “Dave” but we can’t all have such luck. She’s the morning “concierge” (my term), but most people would call her the breakfast buffet lady.

Amazingly, she literally talks with everyone she sees. There is no ulterior motive, no tips in it for her. Check out the photo. In this photo, she sat down with a perfect stranger and had a nice chat for a few minutes. Then she went to every table to ask how they are doing, and engaged in conversation and left them all with a smile.

Of course the breakfast buffet was spotless, too. That’s her actual job.

When I asked her about it, she said: “I do this five days a week and just love it. I meet so many nice people. What other way should people start their day than with a smile and a hello?”

Could you imagine her in your business (especially in a service or hospitality business?). What if she worked for the competitor down the street?

What would it mean to have her there? In my case, I remember the hotel and will come back again. And again. I don’t care about the competitor’s bedsheet thread count or if the pool is open until 11 PM, or even if they also have a breakfast buffet served even a half hour earlier and with the world’s best coffee. As long as the basics are there, and as long as Skeeter is there, I’m staying at the Holiday Inn Express Paducah West.

Yet, as I travel I find so many businesses that suck the life out of the staff who might initially be inclined to do what Skeeter does. Many companies might point to their “Processes and Procedures Manual, focusing only on the product of eggs in the tray, coffee in the pot, and with the secret hollandaise sauce container filled up. A manual that ignores the true purpose of a service business – to be of service.

How do you find people like Skeeter, who are the secret sauce?

The trick for most companies is not to find someone with Skeeter’s role or organizational skillset. Yes, having experience is critically important for many roles (Hello, Doctor! First time performing open heart surgery?), but not every role. In fact, companies that hire based first on true core values are infinitely more successful and have higher engagement than companies who hire first for skills (and then hope for fit). There are so many articles on this subject, from Gallup to Patrick Lencioni to Jim Collins to Steve Jobs. Heck, I’ve written about this several times including this one). A great how-to on how to perpetuate core values comes from Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS Worldwide.

But this article isn’t really about the “how-to” of how to find people who fit your core values (or heck, how to discover your core values in the first place). It’s about thanking Skeeter. And all the Skeeters out there.

Thank you.