Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We need a hard recession...

...Or so I the staff at Dillard's would have me believe.

Last week I went to buy some shoes. Once I stepped into the shoe department at Dillard's everything about me screamed 'buyer.' Not potential buyer. I was a sure bet, yet the three staff members kept discussing something much more important, ignoring me, hidden under an imaginary tent in plain sight.

People cringe every time I say that we need a good recession or even a depression. But if the current state of affairs has not made people value their jobs I don't know what will. I sent all the right signals, yet nobody came to assist me. Once I approached them they seemed slightly annoyed at my presence, yet one of the sales people finally handed me ONE shoe on my size. "I am sorry, I was born like this, with two feet," I blurted sarcastically as I extended my hand for the other shoe.

What will it take for us to proactively offer the two shoes in everything we do?

Is it a lack on the leadership side?

Perhaps poor benefits or wages?

A manager with poor people and communication skills?

Or, could it be, that employers still hiring the wrong people?

In my consulting business, one of the most common inquires I get from small business owners is about finding ways to fire (why beat around the bush with kinder verbiage?) poorly performing employees without facing a lawsuit. That is why I consider taking the time to hire above average employees & using all available resources to do so, is one of the biggest investments an employer should make. Thankfully, it is one of the highest yielding ones as well.

One would thing that what would follow such a diatribe would be key points to take into consideration prior to extending your handshake and employment offer to a potential candidate.

Well, not exactly. Not in this case. Why? The info is out there online, in magazines, in books, for everyone to benefit from it.

If they really wanted to.

I believe that if we only try to follow a guideline to hire the best we’d be taking a simplistic stance on this matter. I also believe we might be making the cardinal mistake of omission by forgetting to ask ourselves the following seven questions:

1. Do we really want to hire the best?

2. When looking at our current balance sheet, are we in the red or are we in the black profitable pool perhaps due to not paying top dollar to hire and keep the best?

3. Would the prodigious employee, seemingly experienced beyond his years, fit in with our current team or will his presence stir things up to the dreaded point of profitability losses?

4. Are our managers prepared to manage someone who may outshine them?

5. Are we conscioiusly or unconsciously trying to maintain the status quo by enjoying our marginally profitable mediocrity?

6. Are we planning ahead and taking the time needed to hire the best, or are we simply taking the stance of worrying about the urgent while ignoring the important?

7. Do we care more about the way we can market and present our team’s accomplishments, even if a thick makeup layer is needed to create the desired perception, or do we truly embrace hiring someone who might shake things up?

For some companies, in their own narrow, horse-blinder wearing view, it might not be as profitable to hire the best employees they possibly could.

In the end, it truly boils down to the fact we sometimes simply lack the cojones (pardon my Spanish) to surround ourselves by the best.

And the main reason is simply fear.
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