The most valuable asset of a company is human resource. It is all about employees in the company and every employee matters. Someone who does not matter should not be in the company. Hiring and keeping great ones, converting even mediocre ones to great ones, and firing those who do not matter help a company build a great team. A company which sticks to the mantra that every employee matters and takes care of each of them will prosper and grow year after year and continually beating competitors. Companies that ignore the rank and files thinking that only super-stars and senior managers matter will gradually lose market share and will start going downhill rapidly. This raises the important question about who comes, who stays and who should go. Very simple – keep the ones with a “winning” attitude and let losers go.
Recruiting is always the first challenge. A company cannot build a great team by just hiring a bunch of superstars from a common background. The hallmark of a great team is its diversity and a proper mixture of talents. For example, neither can you expect a bunch of novel prize winners to build a successful organization, nor a group of MIT engineers can translate their concept into reality. People from different social, ethnic, geographical and educational backgrounds bring different spirits and add different values to a team. When people from varied backgrounds argue with each other and reach a common conclusion that they all agree on, we are very likely to get a balanced and sustainable solution to a problem or an issue. It is also less likely that people from different backgrounds may unite with each other for a wrong reason than people from the same background. Furthermore, sometimes some very smart people try to overcomplicate simple stuff because they are used to addressing only complex issues. Average people try to find simple solutions to any kind of problem. A real world problem may have a simple or a complex solution – we never know. When a proper combination of talents work jointly to solve a problem, by and large we are likely to find the best possible solution. Mixing people of different talent levels and backgrounds creates debates and argument which is the spirit of a good organization.
Many companies simply hire people from great schools and believe that the rest will be taken care of by itself. Hiring all “A” graders does not get us there. When it comes to performance at work, attitude matters more than academic performance and intelligence. An average person can become a great contributor if they have a “can do” and “will do” attitude, positive energy and the willingness to accept that learning is a life-long process. Getting straight “A”s in school does not guarantee that they will be an equally excellent player in the workplace. However, many managers love brand names and graduates from great schools are embraced with open arms without testing the key attribute required of someone to become a great worker. A “winning” attitude – the key attribute – should be the first screening. If a person passes the first screening, then they should be tested on other attributes such as past experience, school performance and subject matter expertise. The most difficult task in the recruitment process is recognizing a winner.
Who is a winner? A winner speaks the truth and never boasts or exaggerates past accomplishments. A winner can put their strengths and weaknesses in simple words without any confusion. The ability to explain career goals in clear terms is an essential quality that all winners possess. Winners have a clear idea of what they want to achieve in the next 3-4 years and beyond. They have a dream, a goal and a strong desire to win. A winner is competitive, but always goes above and beyond expectations to appreciate others – this is what I call “positive energy”. Actions speak louder than words – a winner always leads by example and never tries to lecture others unnecessarily. A winning worker makes their manager proud and they do not need to ask for anything – raises and promotions follow them. In addition, a winner knows how to lead a conversation and find a topic to discuss that matches given circumstances. If you are having one-on-one meeting with a winner, you should not be worrying about what to talk about next. A winner will find something to engage you in a positive and constructive way. Some winners become the darlings of all because of their great sense of humor. Confidence, but never over-confidence, is something fundamental that every winner has.
Who is a loser? A confused, unhappy and stiff person is likely to be a loser. Some people are never satisfied and they keep on asking for more than what they deserve. When they do so, they create an environment where people start setting unrealistic demands. In addition, they cannot stay without passing negative comments to anything they come across. These kinds of people not only lose, but also may bring the whole team down. They are fickle minded depicting a lack of clarity and interpretable vision. They tend to be jealous and over-ambitious to add to their unhappiness. These kind of people may win (or may have won in the past) by chance, but I do not call them winners. A winner wins for the team. Winning for oneself is not winning – that is cheating. Losers lack confidence, but, in contrast, end up portraying themselves as over-confident when they try to hide their lack of confidence. This makes them look arrogant and confused.
Who can hire a winner? It is very unlikely that losers will recognize winners. Even if they do, they are afraid of being defeated / challenged and by and large avoid hiring winners. If a company has clumsy, narrow minded, unhappy, negative and jealous managers, are most likely to hire similar people. Winning culture should, therefore, start from the top. If an organization has a CEO with a losing attitude, the company will have an extremely tough road ahead and things will start falling apart in no time. I would say that a team led by a loser can never win.
To err is human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we end up hiring despite our best intentions. We should not give up easily. We should first try to convert such a person to a winner. Many people change for the good when they are coached and motivated towards a good common cause. But some people just do not change no matter what. Their unwillingness to change for the good becomes poisonous for the team. If that happens, the manger should find a way to get rid of such people. I am sure there are places out there where those people will fit. As a winner, we need to have respect for every person in the earth. We do a favor by letting people know their weaknesses and allowing them to seek career opportunities that is best suited for them. The world is big and there is a place for everyone. A small company should promote diversity, but should not let one or two person destroy the company culture in the name of diversity.