One of the lies we tell ourselves when starting up a business is “I will naturally get better at hiring and managing people over time through experience.” This is a myth. You don’t get better over time. If anything is true, is that you get worse – if you don’t intentionally learn how to do it right.
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Author’s Note: This entry is part 7 of the series “Business Myths” if you are curious about starting a business or have some questions to ask about starting one, please leave it in the comments section below.
1. Read a Lot
Most of the things I know now are because of reading leadership, management and self-help books. A lot of our company culture, unity and success stems from the applied knowledge I received from reading books. In fact, a lot of the stuff written here in my blog comes from the distilled wisdom I received from books.
Reading is a discipline. It’s not easy especially now that we’re living in a world on-demand and entertainment is so easy to come by. In one tap of your finger, you can open Youtube or Netflix or pick music in a whim via Spotify. All of these things demand time – and if you’re giving you’re time to entertainment, there will be little to none left for growth.
The good news is, there are lots of people who lack discipline this way so if you have a bit more discipline than them and you keep yourself from spending time in entertainment and use it for growth and wisdom instead, you already have a huge upper-hand in doing business.
2. Take Time in the Hiring Process
A lot of companies – especially startup companies hire like crazy. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
The biggest mistake I made when I was starting out is that I hired on a whim. If I needed a spot filled, I would interview an applicant once and hire that person immediately. Needless to say that I was very naive and made many stupid mistakes during those times.
A lot of those hires became snakes that bit my hand and some became pythons that would strangle me and the entire company in hopes of bringing the entire operations down.
And the strangest thing about it is, I have never wronged any of them. It’s just that they were the wrong hire and I should have never let them enter the company in the first place.
I did not take my time in screening people.
Now we have a 6-step interview process where the applicant has to come back at least 5 to 6 times before we hire that person.
While it’s true that we don’t fill up open positions as quickly as we did before, we have cleared the company out of snakes and pythons – and that is an extremely good thing.
3. People will Stab you in the Back
The sooner you know and accept this, the better. I always tell a nicer version of this to my leaders in the company. I tell them “Not everyone will like you.”
Having this knowledge in hindsight is very powerful. This is because people are flawed. There will be times you will disappoint people without even realizing it.
Or some people are just really rotten to the core and are envious of what you have. That may also be true – especially in this materialistic, anxious and depressed generation.
I’ve had a mixed of nearly all reasons – logical, or emotional – of people not liking me or what I said or did.
And you know what?
So long as the company is moving forward and we provide jobs, food, shelter, and a fantastic working environment to a lot of people.
That’s really all that matters.
4. Defer Reaction and Emotion
When people say something you don’t like or fail to do a task of something so simple, don’t react.
Reacting with your feelings will put you in a bad spot.
“And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:6
This is because as human beings, our tendency is to shove the person back to hurt the other person in the same level as how that person hurt us. Perhaps not in the exact same way, but pretty much on the same level.
But as the owner of the company and a leader, you have to restrain your emotions and your tongue from speaking out. You have to be the bigger person and look past the offense.
Remember, you are team mates and team mates help each other out. There are already too many people and competitors out there trying to kill your business – what will it benefit you if you make more enemies, especially one right inside your team?
5. Recognize that Unity is Magical
“One of the largest, strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse. Competitions are held to see which horse can pull the most and one Belgian can pull 8,000 pounds. The weird thing is if you put two Belgian horses in the harness who are strangers to each other, together they can pull 20,000 – 24,000 pounds. Two can pull not twice as much as one but three times as much as one. This example represents the power of synergy. However, if the two horses are raised and trained together they learn to pull and think as one. The trained, and therefore unified, pair can pull 30,000 – 32,000 pounds, almost four times as much as a single horse.” – Dave Ramsey
If your entire team is united it may even produce more than four times as much as an individual. Perhaps it can produce 10 or 20 times more.
Unity is very, very important to a team. The less united a team is, the less of a team it is overall.
You need to fight like your life depended on it to keep unity in tact. Some very big enemies of unity are gossip and unresolved conflict.
Here are the major ways to keep these out of your team:
To keep gossip out, you need to make sure you over-communicate especially to your leaders in the company. Say what’s happening. Explain WHY you do things. Tell them WHY you made a certain decision.
When the fog is cleared out, there are no more guesses and a lot less accidents. You get to your destination faster and you get to it together.
To defeat unresolved conflict, you need to take time and talk with all parties involved. You also need to facilitate a sit-down session between parties and reach a resolution by asking them WHY they did what they did and/or WHY they said what they said.
6. Throw Out Entitlements
Give away your special reserved parking slot. Eat packed lunch with your team. Do not dangle your new gadgets or your latest major purchase in front of people.
If you throw out your entitlements, you create an atmosphere of contentment. If you as the leader are entitled, you can be sure your people will follow your example.
And believe me, it is extremely hard to manage people who are entitled by default – what more if they become entitled because of their leader’s example?
If you throw out your entitlements, your teammates will see that and those teammates worth keeping will throw out their entitlements too. Making your company a fantastic working environment.
Hiring and Managing People is not easy. It takes a lot of patience, empathy and deliberate practice. I hope and pray that these pointers have helped you improve significantly.