“Take time to appreciate employees and they will reciprocate in a thousand ways.”- Bob Nelson.
As a leader, it’s natural to assume that your focus should be on bringing in…and retaining customers. While that, of course, is the goal of any business, GREAT leaders must change their approach internally…to recruiting …and retaining their best people. In his landmark study of companies that made the leap from Good to Great, author Jim Collins found that great companies focused first on their people: “ We found that they first got the right people on the bus, and the right people in the right seats-and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage, ‘People are most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are”.
“Our employees are like extended members of our family”- Henry Ford.
So, what’s the first step in getting the right people on the bus? I am a big fan of Nordstrom’s, and my wife is a bigger fan. Recently, I had the opportunity to have a lunch with a Nordstrom’s executive and shared some of the great service moments his company has provided to my family. Then I asked the all-important question, “What is the key to Nordstrom’s success? He answered as follows: “We hire great people and empower them to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.” Then he continued, “We learned a long time ago that you can’t send a duck to eagle school.” I said, “Excuse me?” He elaborated: You can’t send a duck to eagle school. You can’t teach someone to want to serve you, you can’t teach a smile; you can teach personality. However, you can hire people who have those qualities, and we can teach them our products and teach them our culture.” As leaders, how many of us are guilty of hiring ducks, thinking they could become eagles? I would be the first to raise my hand and admit it. What has happened, at least with me, is that I needed people quickly, and even knowing that they weren’t exactly what I was looking for, I rationalized (“with a little work this duck could be an eagle”) and hire them anyway. This can be, and usually is, one of the most expensive mistakes any leader can make. You must constantly remind yourself that hiring the right person for your team is you most important job as a manger. With each hire, your credibility and your team’s success are on the line.
“Your People comes first, and if you treat them right, they will treat the customers right, and the customers will come back, and that will make the shareholders happy.” – Herb Kelleher, Founder, Southwest Airlines.