People are your most valuable asset.
Carmakers need top engineers. Advertising agencies need creative writers and graphic designers. Farmers need seed sowers and harvesters. Schools need teachers. Cities need police officers. Hospitals need nurses. Banks need accountants. Transport companies need ship captains and pharmaceutical giants need scientists.
Regardless of what activities your organization pursues, people are the critical element between success and failure. You’d think with nearly 7,000,000,000 people on this earth, finding great people wouldn’t be a difficult task, yet it is. Subtle differences in education, work ethic, and even health can make massive differences to your business in the long run.
Ultimate business success comes down to three distinct people processes.
Recruit Great People
Strong recruiting is a substantial competitive advantage.
Multi-championship winning basketball coach, Rick Pitino, is convinced that half of his job is done before the season begins. He knows that a huge part of ultimate success is recruiting well, particularly in college basketball where the entire team turns over every 3-4 years.
So how do you coach teams to 700+ wins, two national championships, and guide three different teams to the Final Four? Pitino learned early that recruiting raw talent was his best opportunity for consistent success.
Conversely, Coach Pitino struggled in the NBA where he was saddled with salary caps, long-term contracts, and massive salaries with egos of comparable size. The same great coach, surrounded by immensely talented athletes, struggled when unable to be the final say in the recruitment of players.
The success of your team is going to depend on your ability to identify incredibly talented people and recruit them before your competitors.
Grow Great People
Great talent is a great start, but continually growing and cultivating that talent is pivotal to your success.
NASA is one of the most revered organizations in history for their innovation. NASA isn’t able to recruit the best rocket scientists, simply because the best already work for them. They have to grow them from scratch.
NASA begins the same as most organizations, hiring bright young talent. They look for specific traits when recruiting, but rather than specific skills, they find people with the mental acuity and ability to learn and teach each other. Everything from Air Force pilots to computer scientists and medical doctors will have to work together to accomplish major feats in exploration and innovation.
The average astronaut spends more than a decade on earth preparing for a short trip into space. The success that has brought everything from satellite television, worldwide geolocation, our ability to predict the weather and even things we take for granted such as Velcro, have all become part of our world thanks to a handful of scientists that have spent decades preparing to become inventors, innovators and explorers.
Why does NASA put so much stock in developing their people? It’s simple. Lives depend on it. The best mathematicians in the world have to be able to launch an aircraft millions of miles using virtually no fuel and relying on gravity for propulsion. Then, they have to figure out how to bring it back. Massively complex problems with zero tolerance for error means that every person must be exceptional.
Keep Great People Forever
Good companies recruit well. Good companies create exceptional talent. Great companies manage to do both, then keep that talented team extremely happy and driven.
Keeping employees happy and motivated is a challenge. In 12 years as a management consultant it became quickly clear to me that the number one reason people call an outside specialist is to fix a breakdown in communication somewhere in the organization. Additionally, the most common gap needing bridged is the perception of value between managers and the people who work for them.
This is an oversimplification, however, three factors will make you better at maintaining good communication which has a direct influence on the longevity of an employee’s productivity.
Keep them forever three ways:
Be Honest – If employees feel that management has ulterior motives, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you conduct a worker safety training to reduce expenses and increase profits, don’t tell the workers that you simply want to look out for their welfare. Be honest. Tell them job safety is profitable, plus they get the benefit of a better work environment.
Recognize Achievement Individually and Collectively – Employees that show improvement, do a good job, and demonstrate dedication should be individually praised. When a group of employees do the same thing, recognize it collectively. Sometimes the simplest things make employees feel valued. Company picnics, employee-of-the-month awards, congratulatory rewards for personal or professional growth, and even hand signed birthday cards can be the difference between a short-term and long-term employee.
Reward What’s Important – Every company has goals, objectives, and a mission. When an individual does something that is in line with these goals, go beyond recognition. Create real value rewards for people who are innovative, productive, profitable and visionary in ways that advance your company. A large hospital system in rural Pennsylvania recognized that attracting top professionals away from the big city hospitals was critical to long-term success. They offered current employees a significant finders fee, $3000 for referring someone new for employment. They gave the same reward for new employees, whether they were on the surgical team or janitorial staff. Significant rewards create driven people, and focus attention
on the most important aspects of your company.
Recruit the best, make them better, and keep them forever.