Who wants it most?
Six months ago I went to Kingston, Jamaica, to visit what I would venture to call the world's most successful athletics club, the MVP Track & Field Club. At the latest Olympics the MVP sprinter’s won nine medals. I still remember the morning I arrived to the MVP training center. Can it really be here, I wondered? I found myself on what was supposed to be the track of world record holders and Olympic champions, and in front of me were nothing but a diesel-scorched grass field. No high-tech test equipment, no cutting fitness centre, not even an athletics track. Just a pile of cones, a stopwatch and some rusty old weights in a dilapidated gym with no air conditioning.
Despite the massive success, head coach Stephen Francis had no intention of changing anything. He uses the spartan facilities as a method for testing how hungry the sprinters are.
"It's a big mistake to believe that a performance environment should be designed for comfort. It should be designed for hard work. By keeping my facilities humble I maintain the focus on what it's all about, and I automatically separate off athletes who may be good sprinters but who are more driven by fancy facilities, fame and comfort than the will to improve themselves.”
At Zappos, a successful online shoe and apparel shop based in Henderson, Nevada, they have built a similar mechanism into their recruitment of employees. During the process they quite simply attempt to buy applicants out. “Here's 500 dollars. Put them in your pocket and we're quits, but you're also out of the running for the job.” For Zappos this is a way of testing the hunger of potential employees. What is it that drives them? Those who accept a quick pay-out are not hungry enough to get the job. How do you test the driving force of the people in your business?