By Safaraz Ali, CEO – Pathway Group
Whether it is lack of customers, capital, or a culture thing it comes down to people. If your business is having issues with strategy, finance, marketing, sales, purchasing, systems, and processes, it is all down to people! To understand and seek to solve any business issues you need to understand, what I often term as the ‘people thing’ behind it.
In any given business environment and not just when facing chaos and uncertainty, your best “strategy” in business is to access great people and develop them as part of your team. This is whether they are employed, contractors/consultants or specialist experts as per your specific requirements and business needs. One thing you should strive for is that the team must be able to adapt to and perform brilliantly no matter what the opportunity is and what comes next.
My go-to concept that underpins this is: ‘First Who, Then What’ by well-known business guru Jim Collins the author of ‘Good to Great’. Simply this is about getting the right people on the bus and getting them sitting in the right seats. Jim Collins states that leaders should always think first about “who” and then about “what”.
Clearly, if every problem in business is a people problem, then at the same footing every solution in business is a people solution. We have all heard that in property it is about location, location, location then with business it must be people, people, people.
People at times let themselves and others down and therefore we often have heard that staff can be the biggest source of pain and therefore the biggest liability for a business. When that happens a re-align, re-engage, or release decision needs to be made. However, no doubt in most cases, people are often the biggest asset in a business and like any asset they must be carefully selected, nurtured, and enhanced to generate the highest returns for the business.
Finding the right people, putting them in the right position and inspiring and coaching them is the best advice that I have received. The reality is that it’s a lot easier said than done, it is tough and there are many moving parts to manage here. There are also often theories and thoughts that fight with each other, that is going to happen when you have more than 130,000 books just about people and leadership alone, the result often being not clarity or ease of message but confusion.
I have often defined our success as a business and mine as business leader as simply the result of how good we are at recruiting. It is important for leaders to have right lens to see things clearly, when we change how we see things, we change how we do things. When we change how we see things then things can change because we have.
Bad recruitment is prevalent, and this is where I often say to my team: if you think paying recruitment agencies fees can be expensive and should be avoided, imagine the cost of getting the wrong people in and the damage that can do!
Mistakes happen when you are unclear on what you are seeking in the first place, what your desired outcome is and how you will measure this. Often interviews are not fit for purpose and we lose sight of what we are seeking in the first place. I have seen some examples of irrelevant template questions being asked regardless of the person and responses received. Even worse still is businesses using general chit chat conversations to recruit instead of more in-depth interviews.
Finding the right people is about setting the bar higher, this starts from sourcing from a good selection of people as when you have a weak pool of candidates then overall standards are likely to be lower. Hiring the right people takes hard work.
At the very least you must dig deep, do some research, ask appropriate questions, and get to understand the candidate. The interview is undeniably an important stage in any recruitment process, and this is where I believe ‘Timpson’ the shoe repair chain, has done well with their ‘recruit to values and not just skills’ philosophy – always worth a quick google search to familiarise or remind yourself of this.
Poor recruitment can have significant impact for any business, businesses thrive, survive or die based on who they hire and have working within their business. Getting great people on board does not usually happen by chance but when you can make it work – it works really well: great people are attracted to great business and in turn, great people make great businesses.