If there is one thing I always want my kids to know, it’s that talent alone is not enough to do well in this world. Even the most talented people in the world can’t make it unless they put in the hard work necessary to make that talent count.
I recently had to let go of a member of my team. It’s a difficult thing to do as it increases my workload, but it was necessary. This seems to be a routine thing and I guess I should start getting used it.
I have a team member who started so strong and quickly became indispensable. She was talented and I felt so lucky to have her on board. I mean, I could not believe my luck! But, in recent months work started to get very slow and, being an online worker, I rarely saw her online in order to chat on Slack. Tasks that should have taken hours were taking over a week. But, I loved her work (the work she did) … so I let it continue but expressed my concerns. This is always a mistake. I’ve made this mistake before.
A few days ago, I found she had several online profiles for looking for full-time work with different names. Who knows how many “full-time” jobs she has besides working for me. I’ve been here before too.
I have to say, her talent tempted me to overlook this too. I mean, she did great work when it was done. But, in the end, I had to let her go. This is a problem with online workers paid based on time rather than projects— you never know how much time you are actually paying for. I need to start re-thinking my strategy here. When you pay a full-time person based on time, you can train them and help them grow— but you are also paying for a lot of what you don’t need and putting a lot of trust into the process.
A few years ago, I had hired a super-talented designer. I felt so lucky to have him working for me. I loved his work and our clients loved his work. He worked for me for over a year. But, he was incredibly unreliable. He would go missing for days or weeks and cause me a lot of stress with clients. His talented kept him on longer than it should have, but in the end I could not continue. Same situation as now. Talk about not learning from your mistakes.
I myself know better than to fall into this trap when I work for others. My talents (or previous hard work learning new things) are what get me jobs and contracts. My hard work is what keeps them.
Talent will give you an edge and it may even help the small stuff go un-noticed. But in the end, it is not enough.
Now, that 2016 has started, I intend to re-evaluate how I’ve been working. This is healthy and reinvention comes every couple of years anyway. With Overpass, we’re going to reduce the amount of client work we do and put more effort into our own products. Every day, I learn more and more.