What's More Important: Presence, or Productivity?

Last Updated Jun 3, 2009 5:28 PM EDT

Would you give a full-time job to a contractor who turns in great work but finds it seemingly impossible to show up on time, misses meetings, and is harder to reach than the Hubble?

That was the question posed to recruiter Jason Pankow. Writing on Fistful of Talent about this workhorse who never shows up, Pankow explains:

The reason this guy is still around is that, when he is working, he's a freakin' machine! He may not be at his desk, but he's putting in the hours. Much like me in college, he's often online at midnight or 2 in the morning. He's still putting in 50+ hours per week. And, the work he cranks out is great. He's found and fixed problems that could be major. He's stepped up to work on new challenges facing the team and had great success. In general, he's impressed a lot of people with his raw talent and abilities.
But when he flakes on meetings, it has a negative impact on everyone around him. What's the solution?

Pankow recommends a two-pronged approach if they're thinking of hiring him:

  1. Outline for the contractor the company culture and what it expects from employees. Is face time important, or is just turning in the work enough? Does the company value collaboration or the lone-wolf approach? Make it clear what your expectations would be.
  2. Set expectations for what will define success. As a contractor, turning in stellar work may be enough; as an employee, it won't be. Success in this role is defined also by being a rock-star teammate who helps the team become better as a whole.
I think Pankow is right on target here. I recently declined a full-time gig after, through a protracted interviewing and discussion process, it became clear that the corporate expectations and I wouldn't be a good fit. I still consult with them, but had their expectations been presented to me at the outset, neither the company nor I would have had to waste time in negotiations that would lead nowhere.

(image by Stephen Edmonds via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.