There have been a number of articles lately about comparing Companies to Gardens; how the company needs the same kind of attention that a good garden requires; watering, cultivation, nurturing and of course weeding and pruning.
Companies are distinct legal entities however, in reality they are the sum of the people they employ. Companies are not faceless, they have a personality (the culture), they have human attributes (Values) and they have ambition (Vision), many also have a conscience (Purpose). All of these traits are subjects of numerous books, but the reality is these attributes are developed and supported over time by leadership and by the sum of the people that populate a company. The closer everyone in an organization is aligned to the guiding attributes then the greater the likelihood that a company will enjoy enduring success.
In the book “Good to Great” on page 13 Jim Collins wrote:
“First Who….Then What”. We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage “people are your most important asset” turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”
Time and time again over the course of analysing companies we have found people in organizations that do not belong on the bus – some even openly disagreeing with the vision of a company and undermining the success of the company. Yet, there was a real reluctance on the part of senior management to deal with these individuals, either out of perceived loyalty because of longer tenure or a penny wise pound foolish cost of severance mentality. They would rather burden the organization with poor performers and malicious individuals that undermine the objectives of the company than pay what would be a relatively minor one time cost to rid the organization of these weeds.
There numerous instances where we have found companies that change the seats people occupy to try and find a place where they may be successful. Out of a sense of responsibility to these individuals, again for tenure reasons, some actually find their niche, many do not.
However, the single biggest problem most business owners have is articulating what the right people look like.
They usually start with a perceived need, I am getting overwhelmed, can’t do it all – I need help.
While that may indeed be true the real starting point is with them – what my true personality is, what type of person would I work best with? What are my true strengths and where are my weak points?
What are my core values, my guiding principles? What does my business need to move forward and what kind person, with those skill sets, will contribute to the growth and success of the company?
Once those questions have been answered, with candor, the search can begin.
In “Great by Choice” Jim Collins talks about a mountain climb in Alaska by Malcolm Daly and Jim Donini, which went horribly wrong. Daly ended up clinging to the mountain with life threatening injuries for 44 hours; to save him a helicopter pilot risked his life to save his friend.
Do you have the people on your bus that you would be comfortable with, in a life-threatening situation?
While extreme, would the people on your bus risk all to save you?
Regardless whether it is the first hire of an emerging entrepreneur or the next hire of a multi-national corporation, the closer you get to having all the right people on the bus in the right seats the closer you get to enduring success.