“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Jim Collins.
“Take our best 20 people away, and I tell you that Microsoft will become an unimportant company.” Bill Gates
About halfway through my 26 years as the owner of Creative Roots Landscaping, I started to hit the same roadblock that most overly ambitious, chaos-thriving, “I can do anything,” never-been-a-business-owner-before does. It’s called burnout, and it came with a lot of frustration and finger-pointing at reasons I’m now glad I think differently about. While I didn’t always express my thoughts aloud, I often asked myself questions like “How can the people I’m hiring not understand?” or “Why don’t they care?”. At that time, I attributed my “people problems” to the thought that people are people and, just like me, come with a little or a lot of baggage that I would just have to put up with and workaround. The reality was that I didn’t know what to do when it came to working on the business in a manner that gave the people within it a reason to be fully engaged.
Don’t get me wrong, over the years, we hired many “right” people who did excellent work. The problem was we were consistent when it came to attracting and keeping both the right and wrong people, and that was a problem we had to own.
Fortunately, I was on an unstoppable mission to grow and chose to take an intentional approach to learn everything I could about building the type of relationships that would lead to getting better engagement, higher profits, and ultimately future freedom. The kind of freedom that would allow me to add value by working on my business instead of just making sure it kept running.
Here are a few things to keep in mind on your mission to get the right people:
Getting Clear on Who’s Who: What you need to know before deciding to hire.
What you call them is not essential. It can be an “A Player,” a “Rockstar,” the “Right Person,” or whatever works. What is important is the definition of what that means. For the sake of getting on the same page, let’s see if the following description given by Gino Wickman in his well-written book, Traction, helps us agree on this “Right Person Statement.“
“The right people are the ones who share your company’s core values. They fit and thrive in your culture. They are people you enjoy being around and make your organization a better place to be.”
Now, USE that statement to make all hiring decisions moving forward: read it before posting for a new hire; read it before interviewing; read it when onboarding; read it come review time; read it as your spring orientation; post it in your company huddle room and at your annual planning meeting. Do you get that? DRIVE that concept into the very fabric of your company culture. And before all, be sure that you, the person that everyone is supposed to look up to, are behaving in the manner consistent with your “Right Person Statement.”
Good relationships start with honesty: Keep it real when hiring and NEVER misrepresent yourself or the company.
In his book, Brand: It Ain’t the Logo*: *It’s What People Think of You, Ted Matthews explains that:
“A brand is the sum total impression and memory of every re-markable, every-so-so, and every negative experience with any and all touchpoints of an organization. You don’t own it – all the people thinking about you do”.
Reading that definition hit home and helped me to understand that the secret to finding and keeping the right people from the process of recruiting to perhaps, at some point, a partnership, was to keep the story of our brand genuine.
Avoid making claims like “Creating Places that Matter,” “Being the Premier Landscape Company,” “Best Place to Work,” or others in your efforts unless you can prove them to be true. Why? Because the people you want to hire – the “right people” – are savvy and will, in short order, see any difference between what you are telling them and what they experience for themselves. If the two are not in proper alignment, barriers will start to go up and stifle the relationship’s ability to be the best it can.
NOTE: Your company’s vision is a powerful tool for attracting and hiring like-minded people. Sharing the business’s why – its mission – and the long-term vision will also people get excited about coming aboard and contributing to the journey. Consider that statement akin to having a pre-landscaped property alongside another with a beautiful photorealistic 3d landscape design you are trying to sell your clients. It’s not that it exists but rather but speaks of something grander – hope – and that is something everyone can use more of.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: Get some advice and adopt some already proven methods.
Truthfully, the process of having to find new employees wasn’t something I looked forward to until we intentionally took the time to get better at it. Luckily, there is a lot of helpful information available from experts in the field to draw from. For example, almost two decades ago, my company came across Topgrading, developed by the renowned expert on the subject, Brad Smart. His methods transformed the candidate interview from a standard formality to a thorough, highly revealing engagement. I consider it one of the best systems for improving the recruiting and hiring process, and we still use some of those techniques with others we adopted along the way.
Change your beliefs and take action.
- Take ownership. Start with the mindset that if you are not getting what you expect from your employees, you and your systems are at fault.
- Let negative beliefs go. Don’t waste your valuable time and energy finger-pointing or complaining about the current generation. It builds a preconceived belief that won’t get you anywhere.
- Put in the effort. It’s going to take some time and effort to learn from others, improve on you and your people systems to make long-lasting positive change.
A company’s ability to win big will ultimately rely much more on the who than the what. This is true whether your win is as a well-run one-person operation or a multi-million dollar venture with a future team of 10, 20, or 100.
Through my experiences, I have been fascinated by business and all it offers to improve people’s lives. From working on the shovel, business visioning, and everything in between, to now sharing my experiences through personalized coaching services, my goal is to help other owners work on their business, increase profits, and have more time for themselves while finding enjoyment along the way.
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