To join the SSI staff, a potential member has to have substantial qualifications for the position of interest. Agencies typically set minimum qualifications for positions. This means the positions are open to people who are just barely qualified. Throughout the agency, then, someone who is just barely qualified – and most likely, sometimes by someone who is not qualified – may deliver virtually any service. These services range from counseling to secretarial, from assessment to network management. We have to be able to assure the people who use SSI services, either internally or externally, that staff members who are substantially qualified to provide them are delivering those services. The best way to make this assurance is to only have staff members who are clearly qualified to do what they do – people who are substantially qualified for the position they hold.
SSI staff members are clearly qualified to provide the services they provide. They are, in turn, allowed to provide those services with a minimum of supervision and direction. They function relatively autonomously and independently, so long as they function within the expected, functional parameters. Within limits, they can do what they think is reasonable and appropriate. Given this level of discretion and flexibility, there are additional criteria SSI uses to select staff members. They are included below. Each criterion is required. If the prospective staff member does not meet the criterion, he (or she) quite simply is not likely to succeed within the SSI eco system. This is not a judgment about the individuals competence. Rather, it is merely a conclusion he would not make a good SSI staff member.
- SSI staff members have a clear vision, a clear sense of mission. The most successful SSI staff members have a clear vision of their mission, why they do what they do. They know they are not experts at everything and do not profess to have all of the answers. Even with this limitation, they are clear about why they do what they do.
- SSI staff members value those who make the journey with them. For those who choose to be part of SSI’s internal eco system, they are valued and what they do is recognized and appreciated. They, as individuals, matter and what they do matters.
- SSI staff members commit themselves to excellence. SSI is not merely succeeding, it excels. Being an SSI staff member guarantees being a valued member of a human services team committed to doing the right things right, the first time, on time, every time, one client at a time.
- SSI staff members appreciate where and how they fit in. An SSI staff member knows his primary role is to help others succeed. His task is to provide for other people the best possible opportunity to get where they are committed to going.
- SSI staff members play by the rules. They respect the rules and expect others associated with SSI to do likewise. We have undoubtedly all run across the person who believes he is above everyone else. People like this think rules are for other people and what they want and do are exceptions to any rules or established procedures. Excellence is not something they have thought about a lot. Fortunately, they are very far away from ever being invited to join the SSI staff.
- SSI staff members do not pass their frustrations and negative feelings along to others. What do they do with their frustrations and negative feelings if they do not pass them along to others? They proactively share them only with people who have a need to know about their perceptions and who can do something about the underlying problems or issues.
- SSI staff members are positive and energetic whether things are going well or going badly. Bad news certainly does not suddenly energize SSI staff members. Neither do they take their frustrations and annoyances out on everyone else. They understand their attitudes and commitments are their responsibilities; thus, they make the extra effort needed to assure they are at their best, every day, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.
- SSI staff members accurately understand and appreciate their skills and limitations. Knowing what they do well and then doing it well are among the SSI staff members’ strongest assets. They understand SSI cannot excel unless everyone spends most of his (or her) time doing what he does best.
- SSI staff members are timely in all they do. For SSI staff members, being timely is mostly a matter of respect. They cannot always be on time and do everything on time every time but it is nonetheless a major priority for them. If we are expecting them to be somewhere at a specific time, they are there. If they commit to doing something, the job is done, on time, every time.
- SSI staff members pitch in and do what needs to be done. They are doers. They can always be counted on to do what needs to be done and to give whatever they do their best effort.
- SSI staff members keep focus on getting the job done. They do not get into being negative and depressed about things. They accept personal responsibility for their attitudes and behavior. They know too it is easy to lose focus, to lose track of the goal.
- SSI staff members have faith in those who make the journey with them. This starts with not reflexively blaming or accusing someone whenever there is a problem. That initial level of faith is followed by believing people are normally honest and trustworthy. Assuming others are honest and trustworthy allows SSI staff members to comfortably collaborate with them. Together, in the spirit of trust and good faith, they can best understand the problem and how to reduce the likelihood of its recurring.
- SSI staff members take even minor complaints seriously. This is based on the fact people seldom complain unless there is a real issue. SSI staff members know, as well, people who are complaining usually want to be heard at least as much as they want something specific done, and sometimes more. Put these two truths together and we can see the strategy: There likely is a real issue. + People want to be heard. = Always take time to seriously listen.
- SSI staff members are open to ideas and suggestions from anyone. They seek out ideas and suggestions everywhere, from everyone. They try to learn something from every idea, every suggestion, whomever its source. They listen and then they learn.
- SSI staff members understand problems and issues from other people’s points of view. We all have told someone about how a problem or issue looks from our point of view only to be told I don’t see it that way. Let me tell you what the real issues are here. What is the not so subtle message? You’ve got this all wrong. It’s not that way at all. This kind of demeaning approach is never heard from SSI staff members. Such disrespect is not their style. More importantly, they know by using that approach, they lose. Just as they get most of their ideas from other people, they get most of their insights and new perspectives from other people too. They take time to understand other perspectives, to get other peoples read on things. When they walk away, they have more of what they need. They have what they know and now also have part of what the other person knows too.