Get the right people


Several of my clients are recruiting at the moment, and I’ve been helping frame their thinking as part of the process.

Sometimes, all you really need to do is to hire someone who can carry out the same duties as the person who has left, but actually that is fairly rare.

Think of recruitment as an opportunity for you and your business to learn.

Perhaps you can recruit someone from a larger company, who will bring with them years of learning and experience. There will be things that they are used to that don’t work for you and your business, but there may well be ways of working and procedures that they know and you can adopt or modify to improve your business.

A similar raft of knowledge can come from someone who has worked outside your industry. What they don’t know about your business is often made up for by the external view.

These are the people who are like an annoying toddler, they keep asking “Why?”

Why do you do that? Why this way? Why not the other way?

They will challenge your processes and procedures as part of their understanding, and they may just shed some light on things that have evolved but are no longer really fit for purpose.

The second part of successful recruitment is to think of the person you need for the future, not just for today. That’s especially true for businesses that are growing, but applies to all. The world is changing, business is changing and people need to adapt.

The final part of successful recruitment is the induction program. If you’ve chosen the right people and they have the knowledge and skills to challenge the established ways, will they have the opportunity to do so – will your culture permit it?

The first 100 minutes, the first hundred hours and the first 100 days are useful milestones to think about your induction program.


Do you make enough time?


Many of my clients are not very good at training and developing their staff, but to be fair that was also true throughout my career in the corporate world.

I remember being sent on a management training course after my promotion to lead a team, but that it was almost a year after I started in the new role that I went on the course. I’d made my mistakes and learned on the job!

I also remember it was a residential course in London, so we took advantage and the family had a couple of days touring the sites. My son must have been about 8 when he asked me what I had been doing that day and I was able to truthfully reply “playing with Lego”

Why wouldn’t you train your staff? There are no good answers, only excuses. Not enough time, it’s too expensive and so on. It’s not seen as a priority for the business so gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.

There’s an old joke about a conversation between the finance director and the managing director that goes:

FD “What happens if we train them and the leave?”
to which the MD relies “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

It’s not just the time on the training course though. If you don’t put into practice what you have “learned” you haven’t really learned anything. You may have had an entertaining time (any trainer worth their salt will have made the sessions fun) but that’s all.

That’s a lot like the bookshelf in many offices, groaning with business tomes from the great and good, most of them unread. Take a look around your office – I know I have a few and I am sure you do to. My speaking colleague Nigel Risner calls the phenomenon “shelf development”

If you don’t take time after the training to put it into action, you wasted your time and money. If you don’t read and absorb the lessons from that book, you wasted your money.


People do business with people


I was at a funding event recently where one speaker talked about how investors decide to invest – or not to invest.

It has very little to do with the financial forecasts, or the potential return.

It has everything to do with the people. Investors will not invest in businesses if they don’t like the people involved.

Many years ago I worked with a venture capitalist who told me they would rather invest in a great team than a great product. The great team will fix the poor product and the poor team will break the good product.

When I am advising clients who are entering into corporate transactions – buying or selling businesses – I always stress the personal aspects. You won’t sell your business to someone you don’t like, or at least get along with. You certainly won’t buy a business unless you like the people involved.

When a customer buys from you they are making an investment. That’s partly financial – they exchange money for your goods and services – but more importantly it is an investment of trust. They trust you to provide goods / services that meet their needs.

That’s part of the reason why it is so much easier to sell to a past customer than it is to sell to a new prospect. The past customer, at some point, trusted you. With a prospect you have to establish that trust. With the past customer you have only to re-kindle the relationship.

Do you have a sales and marketing mix that helps create the trust that prospects need to move forward? Do you have the testimonials from people like them? Do you have relevant case studies?

Does your sales team focus on creating the relationship?


Management by expectations

I’ve always been a great believer in people. I don’t think many people set out to fail in their jobs, or set out to fail to complete a task or a project.

I do think there are a lot of managers who find it difficult to let go. They insist on telling their team what to do – sometimes in great detail – and quite often forget to tell the team why they are doing something.

The worst of these are the managers who forget to communicate altogether, so that the team carry on doing what they have always done. The fact that the boss wants them to do something else passes them by – the boss didn’t tell them, he expected the team to be telepathic!

You might be thinking “That would never happen here” but what if you go into a board meeting at the end of the day. You have a detailed and somewhat heated discussion in the board meeting and agree to do something different. You leave the meeting to find everyone has gone home for the day.

That night, your mind is buzzing, working out all the ramifications. The following morning, you have worked out a plan and you stride into the office & start issuing instructions.

The team weren’t in that meeting; they weren’t part of the debate. You’ve changed direction and they don’t know why or where we are all going!

An alternative management strategy is to manage by setting expectations. You focus on the outcome, not the tasks that might lead to the outcome. The team working for you have a series of goals. They know what you are expecting, and it is down to them to make it happen. You are empowering them to get on, use their brains and skill to get to the desired outcome.

If you couple this management style with supportive language and actions “Let me know what help you need to achieve this” you’ll really engage the team and get fantastic results.