The best companies invariably have the best people


The right man is the one who seizes the moment.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The opposite of this is that the worst companies have the worst people.

Failing businesses I have gone into invariably have people who don’t want to be there, with bad attitudes, few skills, and are badly lead and managed. They may not be bad people, but the circumstances they find themselves in combine to ensure they invest their skills and energy elsewhere. They will be on the phone to their mates, texting under the desk, and sneaking longer breaks whenever they can. And that’s just when they are taking time out from trying to find a better job – where they get more money for doing less.

To be good therefore it is essential to take the time and energy to find good people, and then train them, and lead them.

Find! The first mistake many managers make is that they think in terms of hiring people. Hiring , or employing the best of those who come to you from your advertising, massively restricts the pool of potential staff.

Rather, think in terms of recruiting.

Just semantics, or different words for the same thing ? Not at all!

One (Hiring) is very much a passive action, whereas the other (recruiting) is pro-active.

With recruiting, from the start you have to think in terms of creating an environment people want to work in and a cause they can rally behind. You have to create reasons for people to want to work with your organization, and with you, and reasons for them to want to get out of bed and come to work in the morning. You may stumble upon quality people in times of tight employment, but as soon as it swings around to be a job seekers market, then employees will desert the organizations that don’t satisfy any of their needs other providing a salary. As the population in most western countries ages we will find that it will be a job seekers market more than it is not – at least for skilled jobs. And in every employment market, in the future the more skills you need in your team, the harder it will be to find and keep them.

Rather than placing an ad, whether it is in the print media, online, or on a lamppost, and waiting to see who comes running, to effectively recruit you need to find ways to go out into the community, and look for people who will enhance your team. Then you need to convince them to come on board. You need to selectively find great people, rather than just hiring the best of whoever shows up – or more probably wants to jump ship from wherever they are at present.

Train! Whatever training and skills people come to you with, we all need to learn on a continuing basis. Whether it is adapting to a new industry, a new role, a new environment, or simply ensuring that our knowledge and skills are current, the learning needs to go on. The world is in a constant state of change, and if we don’t all change with it, then we will soon be left behind. This means, for the sake of the individual, and the enterprise, that there needs to be an ongoing investment in training.

But this investment needs to be made by both parties. If you have people who are not interested in investing their own time and energy in enhancing their skills – you very definitely have the wrong people.

Training is not just a case of sending people off to courses and seminars. There is (sometimes) a place for this. But more often, training is about investing personal time and energy in people, and tailoring courses for specific industries and roles. If you think training is about allocating budget, think again. Perhaps you need the training more than your people!

Lead! The number one reason people leave is their leader. Think about that!

People need leadership. They need direction. They need a purpose. And then they need recognition. If they don’t get leadership, direction and recognition, then they will surely start to look elsewhere to find it.

Going into one failing business, and finding (as always in failed businesses!) that there were major people problems, I discussed the reasons with the long time manager. His approach was the root cause – “I hire them, give them the tools and expect them to do a good job”. He then buried himself in his functional activities and paid no attention to any of the requirements of leadership, including giving direction and recognition. And then he was confused as to why he was left with underqualified and undertrained staff with poor motivation and attitudes.

The SIMPLE reminder: Go on a search to find the very best people. When you find them, invest your time in training them, and show them leadership.