The woman who assembled the team to build BMW said she was looking for people with experience in life – the best training for today’s work environment.
The people we choose would have been successful in almost any organization they might have gone into,” said Susan E. Crocker, an employment consultant and former vice president for human relations at BMW.
“Often people don’t have much experience working in teams. They’ve never had that opportunity,” she said.
“Anywhere you help lead a group, or help do problem-solving or decision-making – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a church group, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts – these experiences can help you learn group dynamics and problem-solving skills.”
“BMW was seeking applicants who were actively engaged with other people in all aspects of their lives,” Crocker said.
“Ninety-nine percent of people with those experiences are successful in the workplace. You can’t win the race unless you are in the race. Volunteer for something. Stand up and take responsibility and follow through. That always helps,” she said.
“The more experiences we have, the better prepared we are.” Crocker said “job fit and motivation” were most often the issue for those who did not win the coveted BMW jobs.
“In many cases, they had a false impression of what working in an automobile plant was like. They thought it was a lot more glamorous perhaps. It is heavy industrial work,” Crocker said.
“Or they couldn’t deal with the ambiguities of a start-up operation. They wanted guarantees. Today, if you can’t deal with ambiguity, that’s a problem,” Crocker said.
“A friend of mine once told me that the Chinese character for crisis is the same as the symbol for opportunity. So remember: Crisis equals opportunity,” Crocker said.
“Making a change can mean a better future. Don’t be afraid.”