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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 2
Issue 8

Get Them On or Off the Bus Quickly

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, equates hiring and firing employees with getting them on or off the bus. His theory is that it is more important to hire the “who” rather than the “what.” If the right people are on the bus, then the bus goes where it needs to and the path can be altered by those traveling on it. Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off and do it quickly.

Collins’s bus symbolizes taking your business forward. When Collins looked at successful companies, he found that how great CEOs handled key people was indicative of their sustained success. This issue of Working Possibilities explores why companies need to have the right people on board. Next month’s issue will focus on getting the wrong people off the bus.

Business owners I talk with say that dealing with employees is one of their biggest challenges. Collins’s bus analogy can help gain perspective for your own situation.

It is important to find the right people to be part of your company because they will contribute to developing your business strategy and executing on your vision. When you find the right person, build a job around him/her to take advantage of what he/she has to offer. Missed opportunity is when you select someone only to fit in a specific position. Squeezing a good hire into an ill-fitting position is a tragic waste and will set you and your employee up to fail. Look carefully and hire right, not just to fill a slot but to build the resources necessary to grow your business.

To hire correctly, you need to know how to identify the right people to board the bus:

  • Look for sharp people who will attract other good people. Key hires can be a magnet for prospective employees who would like to work with them.
  • Find someone with skills and experience that you can build a role for in your company. Look for those key hires who might shake things up a little. They need opportunities to do their magic. If a new hire is great at building strategic relationships, be sure you don’t confine him/her to the office all day. Good hires should not be frustrated with their duties and held back from providing the best they have to offer.
  • Hire people for their thought leadership. Look at what your prospective key employees have created/designed. Understand their passion and the ideas they may bring to your business. Give them the room and encouragement to contribute in a major way.
  • Seek those who are both independent and strong team players. The best hires are the ones who are self-directed yet can function well in team situations. Those who cannot play nicely with others cause conflict and can halt progress. Introduce your team members to key candidates and listen to their feedback.
  • Recruit those who share a passion for your business. You are better off with people who are excited about your industry, the solutions you offer or specifically your company rather than those who are just desperate to fit into an available position.

Hiring key people is one of the most important jobs you have. They will assist you in determining the direction and strategies for your business. In addition to the points above, also look for diversity, rather than similarity to yourself and others on your team. Be sure they will challenge your ideas rather and not just agree. And lastly, give them the opportunity and encouragement to do and be all they are.

Though this newsletter is geared toward key people, in a small business all of your people are key. Your business will be stronger and you will be a better leader if you hire the right people for the right reasons and get them on the bus quickly. If you wait too long, you will lose the best. Topnotch people won’t wait at the bus stop long.

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