How to Identify Your Goldbrickers and the Diamonds in the Rough

Written by Nica Foo, Humanising Disruptive Innovation® | LEGO® SERIOUSPLAY® | Solution-Focused® Coach

Some employees always seem to find something better to do then the work they need to do. Then there are the workers who can produce consistent results all the time.

You will also have a group of employees who never care about what you think about them. They’re working because they can earn a paycheck until you decide to fire them – or they choose to leave.

When you search through applicants, there are two personality types that you can often find: goldbrickers and diamonds in the rough.

Your job is to find the right person who will produce consistent results from the moment you start the onboarding process. The easiest way to do that is to understand the difference between goldbricking and those people with raw talent that you can polish.

What Is Goldbricking?

Employees who are goldbricking are performing less work than they are able while still maintaining the appearance of effort. It comes from a term that people developed during the 19th century during the various gold rushes.

Some prospectors who try to apply gold coating to a brick of metal that were worthless, and then pass the fake item off as real gold.

“Everybody favors free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground.” – Heywood Broun

That means the employee might look like a dedicated, hard-working individual on the surface. If you start to dig deeper, then you will see that appearances can sometimes be deceiving.

What Is a Diamond in the Rough?

Diamonds in the Rough are employees who offer a lot of potential for an organization in the future. They have a lot of ambition and natural talent working for them, but they are limited by a lack of real-life experience and training.

These are people who have a bright career ahead of them if they can receive the guidance necessary to infuse their talents with new experiences.

“A muddied diamond is better than an unsullied pebble.” – Matshona Dhliwayo

How to Tackle Goldbricking Issues

The easiest way to prevent goldbricking is to limit the opportunities for justifiable distractions. Keep unnecessary internet access to a minimum at work whenever possible. Encourage people who like to socialize beyond your break periods to get back to work.

Some companies are installing surveillance software which can monitor internet searches. You can use a proxy server that blocks social media or other websites.

Then you have the issue with the smartphone. If you block Facebook at work, then the worker will use their technology instead to slack off. Try implementing metrics that can show you who is putting in the time and who is not.

How to Polish the People with Raw Talent

Everyone needs mentorship at various stages in their life. When you can guide people who have raw talent, then you can turn their natural tendencies into marketable skills that benefit them and your company.

“Without enduring the adversity and pressure of its environment, the diamond would never become the treasure it was meant to be.” – Susan C. Young

Many people who classify as “raw diamonds” need guidance to help them gain the experience necessary to maximize their natural abilities.

Look for people who are persistent about working with you because that shows something that you can’t find on an application. When someone wants to be successful, they will make that happen. Your mentorship will help to polish those skills to make them sparkle for the rest of the world.

Goldbrickers want a paycheck for the least amount of work possible. Your diamonds in the rough may need a little guidance, but they are also genuinely working for a brighter tomorrow. They want to align their values with the mission and vision of your company.

Find these differences early on in the hiring process to maximize the consistency of your productivity.

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