Capturing Your Best ReturnMar 14, 2023
Several years ago, I asked a client who was struggling to attract and retain good team members why they treated their customers so well but didn’t extend that same treatment to their employees. The owner of the company told me that it was because he paid his employees to do what he told them to do so that’s what he expected. He also said that his customers were paying him so they deserved to be treated differently. I immediately replied by telling him that unless he was willing to change that perspective, he had no business having employees. I’m not about to suggest that this reply didn’t ruffle his feathers, but that didn’t mean I was wrong!
Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the end of our working relationship. I attempted to help him change this approach for a while longer, until I learned that he had plans for dissolving the business. I won’t go into any more of the ugly details but I will emphasize that it DID NOT have to be that way. Had he been willing to invest even the slightest bit of effort into Changing the Approach he was taking with the folks on his payroll, I truly believe he could have built a team rather than just having a few random people showing up for a check.
If we’re genuinely interested in achieving quantifiable results by dealing with the profitability killers that are having the biggest impact on our bottom line, the simplest solutions often make the most difference but it’s critical that we start at the top because that will set the tone for everything else across the organization. I’ll stress it once more here just in case I haven’t been clear enough: this doesn’t require some magical gifting that’s only possible for the very select few… Making these behaviors a part of who we are and what we do is as simple as creating any other routine we’ve ever built into our lives, we just need access to the right tools and we need to make a decision to apply them!
Of all the areas in a business where I believe additional profit could be captured through more effective top down leadership, I’m convinced that recruitment and retention matters the most. Cindy and I developed a lesson in 2020 for our Executive Leadership Elite Think Tank, a group of a dozen or so local business owners at that time, called “How Top Leaders Set the Tone for Recruitment & Retention” where we made a business case for just how much money organizations lose when the owners and top executives don’t understand the importance of their relationships through their companies. While this also applies to everyone on our teams with even the slightest bit of leadership responsibility, and I’ll break that down in very specific detail soon, the approach those at the top take can absolutely make or break a business - as I referenced before with the client who seemed to believe he owned the folks he was paying…
And the hard reality is that if we don’t give our best people every reason to stay with us, sooner or later (and it’s almost always sooner) we’ll have a hard time recruiting people to take their place. That’s a big enough challenge when we’re trying to fill individual contributor roles in any given field but it kills even more of our profit when the positions we need to fill are ones that oversee key segments of our business!
Before we dive into the the gory details of why Cindy and I built an entire course geared at helping leaders strengthen their organizational approach to Recruitment, Retention, & Culture, we’ll look at one more area where we’ll see the effects of poor leadership from the top down if we’re not intentional in how we address it and then I’ll touch on one valuable thing we can do as leaders to prepare our organizations to have a strong future…