Sam Slay's Blog

5 Leadership Steps to High Performance Human Resources

by Sam Slay

There are Five Steps you can take to begin making an enormous difference in the success of your organization, and they are; Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill, Recognize Emotional Intelligence, Develop A Philosophy. Foster Desired Culture.

1.  Hire for Attitude – The most important factor in the success of any organization is the attitude of its employees. If anyone of them has a negative or lets even call it a nasty attitude, then your organization will suffer and certainly never be as productive as it could be. The naysayers may even turn into an enormous liability to productivity as well as legally; law suites, frivolous complaints and continuous distractions that you don’t need while you are trying to run your organization. So lets get right to it and talk about what you can do to prevent this problem. You must learn to hire slow and fire fast. Now you are probably asking yourself what does that mean. Well, you must learn to take more time in the hiring process.  There are many ideas to help with this philosophy but let me give you some examples.

First, interview all applicants in a formal setting and let them sell you on why you should hire them.  At this point you don’t need to ask a lot of questions. They will tell you more than you may want to know, and they want to tell you more than you need to know. You need to observe very carefully their behavior as well as paying close attention to what they say. If you are asking a lot of questions and writing notes you may miss some very important cues about their attitude, knowledge and intelligence.

Second, if you are still interested in learning more, invite them to a second interview. This time the interview should be conducted in a more relaxed setting. This setting can be a lunch or dinner; but should be conducted outside the office. One special note: If the applicant is of the opposite gender you should have someone of their gender from your office present also. In addition, this is a good idea to have another employee there to observe and ask questions. During this interview you should use your list of questions, but always be aware of their nonverbal responses even if you take notes. Your staff member should be encouraged to ask questions also. This will help you avoid missing some important information. It will also create buy-in needed from your staff. After all, they will be working closely with other employees. It will allow you to analyze a candidates response to the questions and prepare for your next inquiries.

Third, if you narrow down the field and would like to consider one or more of the applicants for the job, you should ask them if you can arrange a work day in the office with you and your staff. You will of course have to coordinate this with the applicant(s) so they can schedule time off from their current employment. As a matter of professional courtesy you should pay them well for the day. The check should be given to them at the end of the day. Furthermore, you should let them know if you plan to offer them the position, but don’t ask them to respond right away. This places undue pressure before they have had time to think about it carefully. Remember you don’t want them to accept and then within a day or two change their mind. You can discuss in detail the position and all of it’s attributes; pay, benefits, compensation and other perks. Then tell the candidate you plan to offer them the position. Ask them to sleep on it overnight and call tomorrow and give you their answer. This will give them ample time to make an informed decision without being under pressure.

2.  Train for Skill – Now that the employee is on board you begin to teach the necessary skills for the position. In one of my articles I talked about Micromanagement and how to make it work for you. I’m not going to revisit the entire article here, but you can go back and read it in it’s entirety. I want you to micromanage a new employee so you will get the type of performance you require. Don’t assume that their previous experience is sufficient. You have methods for doing things the way you want them done. Employees want to succeed. They want to do a great job for you. They cannot read your mind. Make sure you communicate effectively and often your desires for the job they are doing for you. My previous article explains that micromanagement must be used at the right time and it must be removed at the right time. If you do this effectively, then it will work very well for you and the employee. Here is a brief example of making a wrong assumption.  We hired a photographer for our organization once. His previous title lead us to believe that he was a generalist, which is what we were recruiting for; someone with a well rounded experience level. He was even given a higher salary to start, This was a Big Mistake. It turned out he was a specialist and was lacking in many of the needed skills. In short, he had worked in a organization large enough to have specialists. We were a small organization and we needed a generalist in his field. Here is my last brief example. You would not try to hire a surgeon to be a small town family doctor and you should not hire a family doctor to be a surgeon even though they both have a medical doctors credentials.

3Recognize Emotional Intelligence – Emotional Intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman is characterized by the following descriptors; Self-Awareness – Self-Management – Social Awareness – Relationship Management. You must recognize the levels of each employee if you wish to get the most out of them. Keep in mind that what you see is not ALL you can get. You can assist them in lifelong learning opportunities that will improve and/or enhance their emotional levels of maturity. You must be willing to do what other organizations are unwilling to do. You must provide training and education that goes far beyond simple technical skills. You must be willing to invest in your people if you expect them to invest in the success of your organization. Send them to Personal Development programs. Practice real world business scenarios that might occur or that is occurring in your organization. Asked them to work on solutions to solve these dilemmas.

4Develop A Philosophy – What is the philosophy of your organization? What is YOUR philosophy? You must be able to answer these two questions before you can develop your employees.  You must know why you exist as an organization and why you exist as it’s owner or manager. Once you know these answers you can go to work coaching your employees to adopt these philosophies. You must get buy-in for any philosophy. You cannot simply mandate they follow it. Let’s look at an example of what I mean. When you provide a product or service and a customer has a complaint. How is the complaint handled? Will your staff know how to effectively handle it? When I say effectively, I mean so that you don’t damage the customers opinion of your organization any more than it has been. Here is an example that happened to me some years ago. I walked into my Dry Cleaners with a complaint about a torn shirt. When they cleaned it a small hole resulted and preventing the wearing of the shirt any longer. The owner-not a manager came to the counter. He insulted me by implying his office did not cause the hole. He then agreed to compensate me just in case my allegations were true. You see where this is going?  At this point I was livid but I maintained my composure. He went to the back office and returned momentarily with a check for $10.00.  This was a $30.00 shirt. I politely told him that it was obvious to me that he needed this $10.00 worse than I did. I then casually tore up the check and placed it on the counter. Here is what I failed to mention. He had been my Dry Cleaner for a number of years.  I averaged $100.00 in Dry Cleaning services with his company every month. I have never been back and I have new Dry Cleaner. Was it worth it to him to keep his $10.00? This requires a philosophy for customer service. What would you have done? Would your staff handle the situation the same way you would? Who works the counter at your organization?

5Foster Desired Culture – Every organization has a culture. Some are good, some are bad and some could use improvement. Nonetheless, each organization develops a culture over time. You don’t create a culture overnight. Someone once asked me if there was a way to change culture overnight. I told them yes; “fire everyone and start over“. Before you decide to heed that advice, think how costly that could be. There are much more cost effective ways to promote the desired culture without losing your best and brightest employees.

First, decide what your principles are and then decide on your preferences. Now, you might be saying everything is a principle. What I say goes! Not true, most things are actually preferences.

Second, you must be willing to compromise on preferences and stand strong on principles. Preferences are negotiable. Principles are nonnegotiable. You may want everything done your way, but it may hurt you and your organization in the long term. I believe in making employees very happy to work with and for me. I do not compromise principles, but I do negotiate preferences, and you must too, if you wish to create a culture of High performance versus Traditional Performance. Let me say this in closing; creating the desired culture is much like building trust between you and your staff. You don’t do it one time, it takes consistent deposits to the Trust Bank. Creating the desired culture requires reinforcing the principles of the organization and its owners and being willing to compromise preferences.

Article originally appeared in Ezine Articles

Sam Slay5 Leadership Steps to High Performance Human Resources