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  • Aspire » Business Growth Strategiestitle_li=Hiring

    09 Nov

    If you’re tired of reading about the Kansas City Royals you may want to stop now.  But the bottom line is, these Royals offer so many take-a-ways for success in business (and life) it is almost a disservice to not write about it in a forum created for that.   Plus, it provides a few more opportunities to read the words… “World Series Champion Kansas City Royals!” 🙂

    Building a championship team takes a lot planning, hard work, and dedication.   We often talk about the need for strong leadership and defining core values to build a sound business.  Dayton Moore and the Royals organization have clearly excelled at those foundational components.   But there is another major contributor in their rise from cellar dweller to World Champion and all businesses can benefit by adopting some form of what they have developed.  It’s their farm system (development/training program).

    It Starts with Leadership

    Dayton Moore deserves a tremendous amount of credit for building a team that fits the culture of the Midwest.  One of his first initiatives after being hired was to start building a team that aligned with the values of the city they represented.   This created cohesiveness between the team members as they developed and their community as a whole….and ultimately a reason for 800,000 people to attend a victory parade celebration!   Check out this video by Flatland blended with the now famous speech by Jonny Gomes!

    ….and a Value System

    Moore spoke at a luncheon earlier this year and stressed the amount of time and effort his coaching staff and scouts put into deciding what players are the best fit for the team.   He made it clear that just because an athlete is a good player at a position, doesn’t make them a good fit for the Royals.  Your team should embrace your values and align with them.

    But what about your Farm System? (Training program)

    If you’re looking for strategies to model from the Royals organization, this is one that definitely contributes to long term success.   We already know the Royals will lose some high quality players this off season….some may be fan favorites. 🙁   Part of the structure of baseball (as it is with most businesses), is that there is a limited amount of money for employee payroll.  Each year the management team is challenged to assemble the best team possible with the money they have to spend.   For small market teams (like the Royals), who also have smaller budgets, it is even more difficult; if the goal is a quality product.

    As a business owner, if you have an employee at the top of their pay scale in their current position, with no additional money to spend or room for advancement, their next best career move may not be with your company.  That is hard to accept.  I am sure Dayton Moore and his staff aren’t thrilled about losing any of their key players either.   But you have to make decisions that are best for your business long term and bloated payrolls can break a business if they are not managed.

    Starting your Farm System…

    The best hedge for this is to continually be training and looking for new talent.  Create your own farm system.   This isn’t something you create overnight; it will take time, but it really is necessary.  Some business owners get frustrated with the idea of making significant investments in education and training just to have the employee leave.   But what is the alternative?  Not to develop your people?  How is that going to benefit your business?

    The best place to start is simply formalizing your orientation process.  Then start systematizing the functions of each role with instructional videos, manuals, and hands- on training.  You don’t want to start from scratch every time you have a job opening.

    Look at it this way, whether you have 50 employees or 5,000, if half of them want to eventually own their own business or have a senior management position, the math may simply not work out.  You have to accept that some of them will not be lifelong employees and then be OK with that.  If their next career step is with another company, you have to be thankful for the contributions they made when they were part of your team.  And along the way, you and your business will probably enjoy your own share of victories too!

    What are your thoughts on this?  What useful business strategies have you observed in the Royals organization as they worked their way back to a World Championship?

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach.

    08 Sep
    Photo by Jayel Aheram via Flickr

    Photo by Jayel Aheram via Flickr

    In the last week, approximately 40 Million Americans drafted their Fantasy Football Teams.  The craze has grown into an industry with annual spending revenue projected to approach $1.7 billion this year by the Fantasy Sports Trade Assoc. I think it is safe to say this idea was a hit!

    What if you could draft a Fantasy Business Team?

    A number of our clients have been adding employees recently, in some cases they are filling open positions, and in others they are creating new positions in their growing company.   With my own fantasy football draft still fresh in my mind, it got me to thinking about using a fantasy team approach to help figure out who should be hired for these key positions.

    Fantasy is what it is, it’s pretend, and it’s not real.   Conversely, when it comes to your business, it is 100% reality.   In business your company is on the line.  You can’t swap employees back and forth on weekly basis (I guess if you used temp agencies as a regular practice you could).   Certainly for management roles you are going to be hiring with hopes of long-term tenures.   The bottom line is the business of drafting employees for your company is serious business.

    But if you could “draft” any person you wanted for an open position in your business who would it be?  What qualities would you look for?  How much experience do you want them to have?  Do you want a rookie with less experience, a lower salary, and lots of potential?  Do you want a seasoned veteran with lots of experience and has a track record of winning?  Those questions are the ones worth asking so you aren’t just hiring the first person that applies for the job. It needs to be a good match.

    Drafting Rookies vs. Experienced Players

    Every season in Fantasy Football there is always a few rookies that get drafted early.  They have usually performed well in college, but they have no track record they will succeed in the NFL.   You draft them not because of what they know, but because of how well you think they are going to perform on the team they will be playing on.   The same is true with business.  There is nothing wrong with going with someone who may lack experience in your specific industry if they are a  good fit with the culture of your company, as long as they are eager to learn and there is time built into the position to learn your company’s “play book”.

    Experienced players on the other hand are expected to start every game.  When you draft them in fantasy football you are expecting them to produce week after week.   One of the risks with veterans is during their career they often have played on several teams.  Depending on the makeup of those previous teams their performance often varies.    In business when you hire experience, make sure the person is going to be a good fit with your company.   Look deeper than just the resume and make certain they are truly bringing more than just the basic skills you are seeking for the position.

    In business, experienced professionals are expected to bring a lot of leadership skills, knowledge, and wisdom.  They can also bring lots of habits that may not fit into your business model or company culture.   Every year in fantasy football there are a number of experienced players who were drafted early and end up not even starting just a few weeks into the season.  It makes the drafting of that veteran player a bust.   When hiring a rookie is not an option, please do your research on the candidate before you “draft” him or her.  You’ll be glad you did.

    Don’t be afraid to go after other team’s best players

    Finally – when you’re looking to add a key players to your business team, don’t be afraid to go directly after someone if you identify them as a good fit for your company.  There is nothing unethical about making an offer to someone on another team.  The most valuable employees are the ones that are already employed.  As business owners we develop leaders.  Think about it, if you have an employee that has the opportunity to take a step up and he/she is ready, wouldn’t you want them to have that opportunity even if it wasn’t with your company?

    Has your business been hiring lately?  What do you do to help ensure your picks are good for your team?   As always we love to hear your comments in the space below.

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

    07 May


    Hire Quality People

    It was on a piece of paper, given to me by a dealer mentor when I bought my dealership in 1997. A handwritten recipe with 5 areas I should master to have a successful business. In fact, the entire hand written document only contained about 200 words. There was no fluff, just to the point directives, that if followed, would yield a healthy prosperous business. At the top of the list he had written: People, “Hire quality people”.

    From a recent poll in the Kansas City Business Journal:

    69% of metro area businesses hired someone in the first quarter of this year!


    I was reminded of that 15 year old note this past week as we were visiting with the owner of a young growing business. He was telling us how he simply hires the best of the best in what they do. He sees the value in paying for quality and knows the output is going to be relative to the quality of the employee. The other interesting component we heard is how he is defining a culture and when he hires employees that match the company culture the chances of a successful hire increase exponentially.

    I thought back to some of the early hires I made and how those decisions positioned us for growth when the opportunities presented themselves in the following years. If you have employees you need to make every effort to get the right people on your team; quality people. Competition is tough and there is no reason to think it will not keep getting tougher.  But if you Hire Quality People you have a great chance to win!

    Below are the words typed verbatim from the handwritten note in 1997:

    1. Hire Quality People

    A) Positions Company Better for Growth

    B) Positions Company Better in case of employee loss

    C) Customers – See Visually & Experience quality people, thus the dealer can keep customers

    D) Gets things done correctly.

    What is a Quality person? A quality person does not necessary know everything when you hire them, but they are trainable. They work well in their environment. They understand the whole is better than the individual. They are assertive. They are trustworthy and committed.  They share the company core values.  They ‘get it’.  They want to be there and they are capable of doing the work in the right way.

    What is amazing to me is that considering how much has changed in the way we do business in the last 15 years, just how accurate the advice still is. The clear message still resonates even today…Hire Quality People!

    We love to hear your thoughts, what are you doing to Hire Quality People?  (Or do you need to get rid of some less than quality people to make room first?)

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach

    Photo by Phillie Casablanca

    28 Feb


    One of the most common challenges we hear from business owners is successfully hiring good employees. One would think with the national unemployment rate still over 8%, the available talent pool would be well stocked with highly quality candidates eager to be the next superstar in your company. But the unfortunate reality is there are still a lot of people being hired that end up not being a good fit and often it means both the company and the employee end up back at square one.

    The good news is there are a number of ways to improve this. Following are what I found to be the top six drivers to increase the chances of having a successful hire.

    1) Job Description:

    Have a clear description of the position you are seeking to fill. Make sure you clearly explain the role and what is expected. Be as specific as you can be and don’t sugarcoat things – if you need someone who can make hard decisions, say that.  Being upfront about this will right away will create a clear picture and  immediately narrow the audience.

    2) Who to interview?

    Create a list of minimum criteria that must be met to be considered for a formal interview. The list for this will vary with the position but it could include: Experience, Education, # of jobs, etc. Run their name through the search engines. What is the content of their social media pages? If someone doesn’t meet a criteria they simply are not eligible and move on.

    3) Attitude:

    Hire attitudes! I have always believed this to be paramount. There may be no other attribute more critical to the success of the hire than getting people in place with good positive attitudes. You can teach a lot of procedures, processes, and policies, but positive attitudes come from inside your candidate. Your business environment can only foster it.

    4) Interview Process:

    Interview multiple times, the higher the position the more you will interview. Clearly communicate the vision and mission statement of your company. Does the candidate align with it? Ask open ended questions and do a lot of listening. The only way you will learn if they truly align is by doing a lot of listening. Ask thought provoking questions, then shut up and listen. My favorite questions have always been ones that show how they handle adversity,  do they tend to show heart and character?

    When you get a gut feeling there isn’t a match, trust your gut it is usually right. If there is a management or teams involved, get them involved in the process. Their conversations may uncover something previously missed.

    5) Personality Profiles:

    Have your potential hire (or at least your short list) complete a personality profile such as DISC. They are amazingly accurate in showing if the person’s personality is a good fit for the position you are seeking to fill.

    6) References:

    If you make it to this point with a green light, check references. Talk to as many people as you can; previous employers, co-workers, friends. At an absolute minimum, talk to 3. I know you’re busy, but this is the best way to really get a read outside of the interview.  Great questions for past employers are, “If you had the opportunity to hire “Mr. Smith” again would you hire him? If the answer is “Yes”, follow it with “Why?”. Listen to the answer closely, it will speak volumes.

    At this point, if your potential new employee still looks like the perfect match there is a great chance you have found someone who is going to impact your team in a very positive way. Get them on board, give them the tools they need to succeed, and get out of their way!

    Do you have a hiring process, when it’s time to hire? What have you found to be beneficial? Please share your thoughts in the space below.

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach.

    Photo by Photologue_np

    19 Aug

      photo by Jerry

    A lot of thought over the years has gone into what makes a business great. In the business classic “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, 5 years of painstaking research led to a lot of interesting conclusions about what separated great companies from good companies (and all the rest).

    Some of the key drivers included things like great leadership, and disciplined focus but one of the fundamental keys to a great business is that they have great people. In other words, using Collins terminology you have to get the right people on the bus if you want to succeed.

    But what are the Right People?  How do you evaluate them?  Let’s hear from Jim Collins first:

    Read More…

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