People really matter

The most important asset of your operation are your people – believe it or not.

Unfortunately not everyone thinks like this and thus I feel the urge to explain myself – again.

Your product is interchangeable. Fully. There is no difference between the benefit of an LV-bag and a Gucci bag, there is only a different story behind. The quality is comparable, the prize anyhow. So there is no real difference. 

Your boutiques look all the same and are fully interchangeable. There literally is no difference between two luxury boutiques today, the same logistic flows, operational constraints, the same sizes, the same materials, sometimes even the archtitects are the same it is only a question of color codes and design of the furniture.

Your stories are the same. I was quite bemused to realize some years ago during my time in a big advertisement company that in fact it really all is fake news. Our postfactual society is not a result of the poitical development of the last years, it rather is a result of the continuous development in marketing and communication.  In fact the selling of old wine in new tubes is an artform cultivated in advertisement industry since decades and brought to perfection during the late 90ies. The consequence in my eyes is that there is almost noone, who does have a really genuine story. – They are all the same with nuances of differences. Check out the usual suspects of the watch industry – there mission statements are as interchangeable as their products. Their marcom stories are as thin as the ozone layer.

So the only real difference there is, lays in the lived culture of your company and this is dependant of the people, who live it on a daily basis. Therein, with all the obstacles possible, you will see, lays the success of your small operation or of course its defeat.

The most important ability today of a good leader (Managers we do not want anymore) is the ability of putting together heterogenuous teams, matching the task to be fulfilled in an optimal way and to light the fire of passion within each individual of this team.

To do so it is key to understand the nature of human beings, love to work with them, develop them, and being able to lead them with a great focus on both the targets of the company and the personal targets of each individual.

In real life there are some assumptions you will have to live with in order to survive, you should not requestion too many things, such as the long term strategy of the company, the job descriptions you get, the administration of the company and in sum its culture – you do match or you do not match into this company – punto.

Within these boundaries though you are free to operate and this is precisely, what you should do – push the organisation to the limit of what it can bear – this is called “creative restlessness” by a former boss of mine and is necessary to nudge any organisation into the right direction.

Consequently when you hire your team – this is precisely what you have to have in mind.

The optimum for your little operation on a very local microscale is what you are looking for, thus it is key to be able to identify the right people to ensure to match the targets of your operation, fitting to the actual culture of the organisation, creative enough to be pushing the boundaries, with the right attitude and ideally the right skills. Good luck.

These jack-of-all-trades certainly are to be found when you accept some very simple axioms:

  • Rarely the one who shouts the loudest is the best – look for hidden treasures and believe me I found some.
  • The best salespeople are the hardest to be managed, usually they tend to be hyperactive, extroverted, knowing better everything, super result oriented and aware of their value – meaning hard to bullshit at. – Hire those and those only.
  • Digg for gold – experience is important, try to see it as a more generic value, more abstractly…
  • Forget every cliche, you might have, especially the age, the sexe, the pedigree, etc.  – really do. The best hires I ever made are the ones that are out of the common – the worst as well, but hey, any excellent hire is worth every fail there could be, and remember as you formalise your management – they are quickly identified.
  • Learn to see behind the facade of people – if you are not sure, retalk, reschedule or reject.
  • Be aware of the psychological profiles you hire – there is an absolute danger the smaller the team is: to hire minds ticking likewise. If you are familiar with the MBTI (more details later) imagine to have a team of 5 ENFPs together – it will be a catastrophy. –  You desperately are in need of diversity.
  • Have in mind that the team you create is there to reach targets, develop customers and to transport the values of the company, nothing else. Focus on it. – If you come along really well – even better.

“You are only as good as the people you hire” – Ray Kroc,  founder McDonalds

“Never hire someone, who knows less then you do about what he is hired to do” – Malcolm Forbes, american entrepreneur and publisher of the Forbes magazine

“If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don’t particularly like.” – Soichiro Honda, Japanese engineer and industrialist founder of the Honda  Motor Co. Ltd.

So, baseline: hire people knowing more than you with the right attitude, forget skills in hiring – To make your hires have the skills they need is your job – to make them have the right attitude is impossible.

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