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I make your hiring process simple. Tell me what you want - I'll get it for you.
|The People Link - Hiring Made Simple|
|If a Tree Falls in the Forest…|
Bill Good, President and CEO of Bill Good Marketing in Salt Lake City, Utah, is and has been a nationally-recognized leader in the field of prospecting and marketing for the financial services industry since the early 1980s. His Gorilla CRM® prospecting, marketing and office management system has helped thousands of financial advisors develop and maintain long-term relationships with their clients in any economy (www.billgood.com).
His book, Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success: How to Find New Business by Phone published in 1986 by Charles Scribner's Sons, showed sales people, in any industry, how to use the phone to prospect without alienating individuals at the other end of the phone line. And his recent book, Hot Prospects, received a very nice “tip of the hat” from client and New York Times bestselling author, David Bach (The Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich).
Bill is all-too-aware of what can happen in a down economy to both employers and employees. Employers may find themselves having to get more done with fewer resources—financial and personnel—while employees may be concerned about how to keep their jobs.
Having been both employer and employee, Bill has given this area a great deal of thought. What follows is his “prescription” for solving the problem of downsizing as painlessly as possible, along with advice for people looking for work or who want to keep their jobs.
TPL: I know it's been a very long time since you were anything other than a business owner and employer, so why the interest in how employees can keep their jobs?
BG: It's precisely because I have been an employer for so long— with the knowledge that no business can survive without the commitment and dedication of personnel—that I have taken a vital interest. A business owner can only make it for so long without the support of other people. Meanwhile, those employees depend upon the survival of their employer's business for their own survival. It's really a symbiotic relationship.
TPL: So what does a “tree falling in the forest” have to do with employers knowing who to keep on board when things get tough, and employees being able to keep their jobs?
BG: The whole philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is actually highly relevant for both employers and employees! It's about something being done—some action taking place—and about whether or not that action was perceived by someone else. The mere fact of an employee doing good work doesn't negate the work. But if the boss doesn't know about it, that fact doesn't exist in the boss's mind. And that could mean the difference between an employee who is let go or one who is valued and kept on in a crisis situation.
TPL: I get it! So before we consider the employee side of things, what can employers do to bring out the best in their personnel, especially at a time when employees might be concerned about keeping their jobs?
BG: For the employer, it's mostly about observation and validation. If I see someone really working hard—going the extra mile, being loyal and enthusiastic—I make sure to acknowledge that extra effort.
TPL: For employees to know what would be considered “going the extra mile,” do you provide them with a baseline of expectations?
BG: Absolutely! People should know what is expected of them when they start working for a company. As an example, I make it a known policy that no one gets fired for communicating, even bad news, as long as their intention is to help and not just complain.
I once got a report from one of my staff about a situation that could have been disastrous if not handled. The employee wasn't in a position to resolve the problem, but provided me with all the relevant information that allowed me to then evaluate what to do. He risked being censured by the person involved, but he reported it anyway. It took a bit of personal courage to do that. I was then able to correct and prevent a problem before it got out of hand. I considered this employee to be an asset to our company and our core mission. He had integrity and I really appreciated it.
TPL: What else?
BG: One of the things that I really need to know from employees is their own assessment of themselves. If an employee does something really good, I want to know about it. Going back to our “tree in the forest” example, the act of doing a really good job is not, by itself, enough. If I don't know about it, it may not exist in my mind which would put me at a disadvantage when trying to make the correct evaluation of that person's importance to us when selecting people for advancement or for dismissal if and when that's necessary. I've got a lot on my plate; it really helps when people let me know when they're doing a good job! Further, it then gives me an opportunity to let my employees know that I know they're valuable!
TPL: How about the “employee side?”
BG: This is the flipside of the same coin. An employee who is willing to take on any reasonable task, who volunteers to help out, who actively creates his or her job and attempts to solve problems rather than create them is a real asset. If I have to let people go, these are the people I want to keep around!
Also, I really love it when employees ask me about what training they can get to improve their performance, when they are competent and know their jobs, when they give me good and constructive news. It also helps if the employee keeps a record of those outstanding things for when we do employee reviews in case they didn't let me know already. Such people have a right to take pride in what they're doing. And, interestingly enough are usually the ones whose morale and work ethic are the best, too!
TPL: Is there anything that an employee can do that is, for sure, worthy of dismissal?
BG: Yes! If an employee withholds vital information from me related to his or her job, that's a “show-stopper.” For instance, let's say that I have hired a computer person who programs something for me and then refuses to let me or others know where files are located on the system, or how the system works—effectively holding me hostage in the misguided belief that he or she won't be fireable. Big mistake! The minute I smell that sort of thing going on, I find a replacement, get that person trained up as fast as I can, and let that other guy go.
TPL: Wow! I know some employers who keep people like that on because they're afraid they won't be able to function without them.
BG: That's precisely what such people are banking on. The problem is that it only gets worse over time because the more they know—and don't share—the harder it becomes to fire them. The earlier the problem is dealt with the easier it is to handle.
TPL: If you had to sum up your advice for employees, what would it be?
BG: Assuming you're working for a company and employer who's a decent sort, and you like the work, find out everything you can do, from your position within the company, to improve the survival and expansion of that company. Become an indispensible and valued member of the team that's helping the company do well. Then make sure that some way or other, you let the powers that be know what your contributions are. It's not about being pushy, it's about taking ownership of what you do that's right as you would take ownership for your mistakes. And if you're looking for work, make sure that you get good letters of reference for your contributions at earlier jobs.
TPL: How about any final words of wisdom for business owners and employers?
BG: Be consistent in the rules you lay down. Make sure the policies on which your company operates are known. And always be on the look-out for those people who are making that extra effort on your behalf by encouraging people to “speak up” when they've done something really good. If you don't let them know that you value their contributions, they may just think you don't care, when the truth of the matter may be that you're just incredibly busy!
TPL: Thanks, Bill!
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