Where did all the "good" workers go?
An article on recruiting basics by Bill Hoopes
Time and experience have taught me a lot about solving tough people problems. I don't have all the answers. I do know that no single formula works consistently in all situations. And I have had some experiences (successful and unsuccessful) that have led me to conclude there are specific, positive things that you can do to make success through people possible, or even probable. While I cannot guarantee solutions in every situation, I can guarantee improvement. If that sounds fair-read on.
Woody & Bear speak out
I'll admit there are times when building a team seems fairly simple. As an Ohio State Buckeye fan, I recall the way Woody Hayes put it: "You win with people." It was that simple. Find the right people, teach them what they need to know, hold out a "carrot" like a Rose Bowl trip and get out of the way. Paul "Bear" Bryant, legendary coach at the University of Alabama, felt the same: "Find some talent, show them how to make the first touchdown, and back off-the rest is simple."
Is it really the same for us? As a manager and management trainer for many years, I've come to realize that, while Woody's and Bear's level of competition was higher and more intense, and while winning or losing was determined in an afternoon, the principal determinants of success in sports apply equally to other endeavors like business.
But what is it specifically that leads to success? Let's look closer. We've told ourselves for years that the "right " people, trained to proficiency and well directed, are given encouragement and positive feedback. An incentive (pot of gold) is placed at the end of the rainbow (task completion deadline), and miraculous things begin to happen - sometimes.
Do we clearly understand why more managers, leaders and coaches don't win consistently? Do we know why some teams just can't lose - even in the face of tough competition? Is the answer really just "great talent?" Ask George Steinbrenner if buying great players is enough to win. The answer is NO. Great players, like great employees, make it easier. But in today's service industry world, staffing with 100% champs isn't realistic.
How we can win
Winning through people requires a clear, two-part, approach. We must:
Discover more potential winners more effectively, and
Make each work day a more positive and productive experience for our "starters" and "bench warmers" alike. Keep this in mind, no team ever won all the marbles with "stars"
alone. It's the bull pen that usually makes the difference.
As a landscape or lawn care leader, you must work both sides of the street simultaneously. Don't let up in your ongoing efforts to upgrade where necessary, while doing the best you can with the people you can get or currently have on staff. Both are critical parts of an effective people plan.
Having said all that, our commonly accepted reason for failing with people remains, "just aren't enough good people these days." The implication is: Good people (the kind we want and need to win) were there, but no more. Evidently, we must conclude, the "good people" have vanished from the scene. They are gone! I hear it daily. And to complicate things, we've talked ourselves into believing that we cannot win the game or reach our objectives with anything less than perfect employees.
That's silly. We succeed all the time with less talent and the right attitude. So seek out and learn to attract the very best people you can, but under no circumstances should you ever give up, because recruiting suffers.
If you accept my premise, the solution to some of our people problems lies in rebuilding our industry image. In a later column, I'll get into how to win with the people you are able to attract, because winning with imperfect or less than totally desirable employees is a critical part of any strategy that succeeds consistently. But for now, consider what I call the "magnificent seven" below:
7 Ways to Build a Powerhouse Organization
These basic requirements can make your job as manager, leader or owner much easier:
1. Make a clear definition of your business identity, goals and values.
2. Develop a practical philosophy of leadership.
3. Identify the "leadership style" that will work best for you.
4. Commit yourself to balancing people/task relationships.
5. Develop a comprehensive human resource strategy.
6. Make an accurate assessment of the positive and negative elements of your employees' working environment.
7. Use your management power sources intelligently