Have the Right People, Do the Right Thing

By Kevin Huhn

In 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote a book – ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. In the opening pages he shared how and why the book was written. He wrote about one business owner of a company with 314 employees. Carnegie shared how this business owner accredited his new success and outlook on life to the principles taught in the book such as: don’t criticize, condemn or complain; give honest and sincere appreciation; and arouse in the other person an eager want.

That business owner went from “no one greeted” him to “they are all my friends.”

Here we are 81 years later and with trillions of bits of information and data at our fingertips, via the internet and there are still companies and business owners who fail to understand the importance of dealing respectably with people.

Sir Richard Branson, billionaire extraordinaire, owner of more than 400 companies knows all too well about teams. He is known for his philosophy, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.”

In Canada, many people have an affinity for the team sport of hockey. Statistics show one in seven people are involved in some kind of role in the game. I am not immune to that statistic, as I volunteered and worked up the ladder from youth to pro hockey from 1982 to 2015. And one fundamental core job that took the majority of my time was putting together a quality team as a coach each year.

My responsibilities included skill assessment, similar to a hiring manager in a business. The job required to observe and assess the fundamentals of a player. It required the ability to go beyond the obvious – shooting, passing and skating. Assessing a player also meant noticing what a player did away from the play, how they treated team mates, how they went to the bench and how they handled themselves around authority – like coaches and officials. A part of assessing a player was their activity off the ice in settings like social media platforms.

Picking a team is not an easy task and in business is often taken too lightly or decisions made too quick.

To help you as a business owner with your team, I reached out to a friend of mine, Robert Masson CFO at Sleep Country Canada to provide his keys to building success with a team. As a company with an extraordinary low turnover rate of only 13%, I wanted to get his perspective on what it takes to build a team in today’s Canadian marketplace.

Here are the 5 Fundamental Principles that Rob shared that any business leader needs to adapt to ensure success:

1) Creating a Team is a Journey not a Destination: “Relationships take time to build. Having the right mix of skills, personalities, introverts and extroverts on your team, does not happen automatically. Your role is about identifying quality team players that will work well with your existing team and enhance its capabilities. You do that by creating opportunities that challenge people and are fun. You want to make sure your team has self motivated individuals, constantly striving to improve. And you will see the results because the ideal team members treat the company as if it was theirs. They want to improve themselves and have a desire to learn. And lastly they are not afraid of change.”

2) Lead with Trust: “Your team needs to know that they are being given the room needed to deliver. This allows them to grow. Instead of being the bottleneck that is choking the flow of achievement, meaning everything goes through you, simply provide the vision and purpose (the why) of the business. Empower your managers to make decisions and then let them make them. There is no room for micro managing.”

3) Work on the Business: “When the team is interested in improving the business they collaborate with each other and with other departments. A great example of this is Sleep Country Canada’s finance team working on a business intelligence reporting project. Stakeholder needs were identified and ideas were shared together. The ideas formed into a plan of action. The action plan turned into results and then further plans were made. This is a team working together and not needing direction on every step. With a low 13% associate turnover rate across Sleep Country Canada, associate training is designed on building the individuals up versus training an associate member on the core basics like processes and procedures. This type of focus keeps people from looking elsewhere or wanting to leave. The company is investing in them as people.”

4) Measure Success: “It is more important to focus long term than short term in your business. Focusing on the bottom line rather than taking care of your people is short term thinking. As a business owner it is a given to know that there will always be challenges to overcome. How the team reacts and responds to those challenges reflects the strength of the team and determines the level of success. The comparison is always to the vision and purpose. When the team goes through the tough times – Will the customer be handled well? Will the turf of the company be protected?”

5) Slow to Hire and Quick to Fix: “Success comes from spending a lot of time during the hiring process. Making a mistake by rushing into a hiring decision to simply fill a role is costly. If a mistake is made, your job is to own it, take responsibility and make the change quickly. It does not take long – within 3 months you will know and the candidate will know if there if a good fit on both sides. If you are not fully comfortable the strength of your team will make it or break it. To limit losses and maintain a great team for long term success, be innovative with motivation… for example provide extra vacation days for successful outcomes on a project. Money is not the only motivator. And remember to surround yourself with smart people. Your job as the leader is one of holding the vision and coaching, and less of decision making on daily tasks.”

Oftentimes as business owners we get stuck on only looking at the skills of people, rather than taking time to understand who the person is in front of us. We merely want a job or task completed and to see the body in front of us as a solution to our problem. Yet we wonder why there is re-work and duplication in our business. It stems from our lack of discipline to have the right person for the right job.

Kevin Huhn is the Founder and CEO of HOPES, WISHES and DREAMS and through its mission wants to change the statistics of: 99% of businesses failing in their first 5 years and 87% of employees actively disengaged or not engaged at work, to: 99% of Canadian businesses succeeding in their first 5 years AND 87% of employees actively engaged at work; by helping business owners reinvent their brand with proven systems, programs and products that engage, empower and enlighten in order to impact their rate of success. To learn more visit www.KevinHuhn.com