When asked to write a blog article, I felt unqualified to say the least and even slightly intimidated. Much like receiving a term paper assignment in high school. But then I thought rather than do a lot of research and essentially borrow ideas I thought why not write about something I know firsthand. Why not write about experiences I have had. After all I am now older than dirt and have seen a lot. So here is the first in a series of Dave stories.
There are only two things I am really, really good at.
1. Number one, is making mistakes. I am so good at it and have made so many mistakes that I have a hard time finding new mistakes to make.
2. Fortunately, the second thing I am really good at is learning from these mistakes. I epitomize the phrase “school of hard knocks”. While it is currently in vogue to use the buzzwords “fail fast” and “fail often”, that doesn’t make it any less painful.
So here are just a couple of the things I did wrong in business and subsequently learned from. The hard way.
Only hire and retain people that align with your core values.
For twenty years I hired people I thought were experienced. I hired people I liked or knew personally. HUGE mistake. Everyone knows to hire the best and to surround yourself with good people but very, very few actually do it. The Ah-hah moment for me was several years ago during an all day session with our newly contracted business coaches. We spent an entire day with our management team trying to nail down our core values. I won't go into detail on that process here but once we determined that our highest priority was our family of employees and not the client or the company’s bottom line, everything else fell into place. This changed and simplified EVERY hiring and firing decision. Period.
Simply put, regardless of their skills or financial value, if someone was self-centered or not a team player and could not get along with the other “family members” we did not hire them. If this type of person already worked for us, they were let go. Brutal right? Not in the least. Most were first given several chances to adopt our core values and many received severance packages. This process took over a year.
We now have a cohesive family of coworkers that actually work as a team! Sounds naive I’m sure but ask any one of our 110 family members. Morale and productivity skyrocketed. Unnecessary stress has disappeared. We have fun, we have each other's back, we support and encourage each other. Trust me when I say you can teach anyone the needed skills to do a job. But in most cases, you usually can’t teach someone to be conscientious, to be a team player, to put family first or just to care.