Don’t look for good employees, search wisely for great contributors

When an employee has been poached away, where can you find their successor?

I use the word successor, because when someone resigns, the goal should be to find someone capable of making an even greater contribution than the person who has moved on.

Don’t just replace the person that resigned, find someone better.

Search with the goal of bringing new ideas, and new energy into the organization; someone who can build client relations, improve service levels and quality, generate stronger cash flow and increased profits.

This assumes that these changes are actually wanted in the business. Many owners speak of changing the status quo but decide they are not willing to make the necessary investment or changes to earn the benefit.

Put another way, the owner likes things just as they are.

But, assuming a different conclusion is reached and the organization would benefit from change to get different results, read on to find out how.

Great people are not cheap; it costs more for higher quality and for higher levels of contribution. My opinion is that one engaged committed employee can contribute as much as three disengaged employees – perhaps as many as five disengaged employees.

A new employee of this sort can set a new standard of performance in the company, leading by example, focused on key result areas, pushing things and people for higher quality levels and delivering products and services on time if not early.

A great employee will call out under-performers and will either pull the willing people along or work tirelessly to push out the disengaged and the uncommitted.

Before taking the bold action of bringing in such a person who is going to shake things up, prepare yourself for having to step up personally and professionally to manage the change. Your company will change; you have to do so as well.

Some employees will complain at what is happening and others will embrace the new energy and drive. As the owner, you will have to mediate between the factions.

So, where do you find a great employee? These people are everywhere.

Start by looking within your own personal network. Most folks have a pool of about two hundred individuals that they know, consisting of family, friends, neighbors, people within various community activities and institutions. Don’t leave out where you spend money (grocery store, dry cleaners, or restaurants).

If you tap into this extended circle, you have access to 40,000 people (200 x 200 = 40,000).

Second, if your company does not have an employee referral program, create one. This is where employees are paid a “finder’s fee” for referring a good candidate who is hired and stays.

Third, owners have a business network to use, consisting of vendors and business partners, prospects, current clients and former clients.

Fourth, personal and professional social media should not be ignored. This method is time consuming but may prove worthwhile.

Fifth, search by walking around and watching. Let me share two such examples.

One owner hired a new receptionist away from a burger and fries restaurant.
During his lunch visits, he observed a strong work ethic and that she was friendly and responsive to clients. He made a job offer, she accepted and she now works in a very different business environment while she continues her studies.

I had a similar observation at a drive-through. The woman in charge was firm and focused, juggling her people, clients and food production.

Simultaneously she was teaching, encouraging, motivating and working. Her team responded in kind; it was a positive experience. I thought, “This woman would be an asset to any company smart enough to hire her.”

She had one arm and a million dollar smile. You can bet wherever she is employed today, she continues to be a great contributor.