Hire independent thinkers.
Hire good people, empower them and let them do their thing. I look for people who don’t necessarily always agree with me.
I look for people who have strength and conviction in what they believe, yet who are willing to, at the end of the day, go along with what the group decides.
Correct hiring errors.
There’s always a tendency to make the job fit the capabilities, but it usually ends up with having to replace the person. Try to give the person the benefit of the doubt.
You coach them, and you give them time to see if they grow in the job. Once you decide that they’re not going to, then you have to do something else.
A lot of times you find that there’s another position within the company that they’re more suited to. In the process of deciding that someone is not going to be able to do what you thought they could do, you see everybody has strengths and weaknesses. There aren’t any perfect people. In the process of identifying what they’re not capable of doing, you see what they are capable of, and a lot of times it turns out to suit the need better than the original one.
A lot of times it’s a get-out-of-jail free card for them because they’re not happy. Most people want to be successful in what they do. It’s more of a driver than compensation is just the idea of your self-value and feeling like, every day, you accomplish something.
It pushes decisions back to them and gives them a great deal of headway. When they make decisions that aren’t necessarily what I would make, I don’t punish them for it.
I may go to a manager and ask why they did something or how they evaluated that and what their thought process was, and try to share with them another perspective on it something that they may not have considered. Maybe it was outside the range of what they’re aware of. For the most part, [it’s] letting them make decisions and supporting them, good or bad.
One person can’t make all the decisions. My big job, in terms of management, is to make these other people successful. The way to do that is for them to learn from the good and the bad of what they do.
Make employees happy.
Keep sight of the fact that there are a lot of people in the organization, and a lot of different needs and wants. Try to keep everything focused on your own people, because if they’re happy, they’ll treat your customers well, and if they’re not, they won’t.
Ease people’s growth fears.
Every company has some up and down cycles, particularly a fast-growing company. It will go through a period of really rapid growth, and it will bring on a lot of folks, and then the growth settles out, and you end up having to readjust personnel levels and jobs and changes.
When you go through one of those cycles of having some reductions of force or reorganization, that kind of change brings a company down. What we’ve done over the years is focused really hard on the employee relationships in terms of company parties and picnics, doing the little things around the office bringing in lunches, taking everyone to the ball game.
We really focus hard on that to counterbalance the fear that ‘I’m going to lose my job.’ In general, it’s fear of the unknown that’s the biggest drag on a company’s growth.
Watch your emotions.
Never let them see you sweat. You can’t let the people that work for you know that you’re concerned, even though you are concerned and you are worried, and you’re making decisions you’re not 100 percent sure of.
You have to keep a good attitude. It starts from the top and goes all the way through the organization.
I can see it in stressful times. We went through a period of time where there was some litigation going on, and it was very stressful for myself and the CEO, and you could really feel it out in the organization just this stressful sense all the way out from the people inside to the salespeople.
At the same time, when those things get behind you and you get on a roll and you’re setting records for sales, and I’ve got a bounce in my step, it just goes on through the organization as well.
A lot of people pay lip service to communicating in top-down, bottom-up type of stuff, and they will communicate once and then expect that to be it. You have to circle back and re-communicate over and over again.
We had a period of time when we lost a product line we had for a long time it was 50 percent of our revenue. We had to adjust and make changes. We had always had quarterly company meetings, but at each of the quarterly meetings for the next year or year-and-a-half, I went back over everything that had gone on since we lost those lines.
I know it was saying the same things over and over again, but it gave them comfort to circle back and see, ‘Yeah, this is what happened to us, but even though this is what happened, this is what we’ve done and been able to do,’ and kind of spread the optimism a little bit.
It has to be communication, but it has to be repetitive communication, because communicating change, it won’t stick with them. Not that they don’t remember it or don’t understand it, but when you communicate it, it relieves the anxiety, but the anxiety comes back, so you have to go back and address it again.
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