Pick employees based on their future with you

Dear Dave: We have been fortunate through the years and our customers have always come to us because of our good reputation. I have seen a lot of good people come and go, and I am sad we let the good ones get away. When I talk to other managers, I don’t think we know what we want from new employees besides being good at their job. How do we make sure we hire people who are good at their jobs, but also are promotable? — J

Dear J: Well, you are right about hiring people who can do the job well, but there are so many things to consider when hiring. Since people are people, they need to know how to work with people. Sometimes, my logic just astounds me.

The Augsburg College-Rochester Business Advisory Council tells me there are skills every employee should have, including both job and people skills. I also want to relate that the way we hire people — mainly interviewing — does not always tell us if job candidates truly possess what we want to see. Some people just tell a good story and may fall apart on the job. I believe employers need a person who can demonstrate:

Positive attitudes and behaviors: The ability to cope, be constructive and optimistic. We need more of these traits in people including:

• Self-esteem and confidence.


• Honesty, integrity and personal ethics.

• A positive attitude toward learning, growth and personal health.

• Initiative, energy and persistence to get the job done.

Responsibility: Responsibility and accountability are mandatory. I look for:

• The ability to set goals and priorities in work and personal life.

• The ability to plan and manage time, money and other resources to achieve goals.

• Accountability and responsibility for actions taken — taking ownership.

• Not blaming others for mistakes.


Adaptability: Responding willingly to the demands of the different people and the ever-changing plan, demonstrating:

• A positive attitude toward change.

• Recognition of and respect for people's diversity and individual differences.

• The ability to identify and suggest new ideas to get the job done or create new and better products and services – creativity and innovation.

Teamwork skills: Those skills needed to work with others on a job and to achieve the best results. I want a person who can:

• Understand and contribute to the organization's goals.

• Understand and work within the culture of the group.

• Plan and make decisions with others and support the outcomes.


• Respect the thoughts and opinions of others in the group.

• Exercise "give and take" to achieve group results.

• Seek a team approach as appropriate.

• Lead when appropriate, mobilizing the group for high performance.

I’m sorry if this seems like a laundry list of "gotta-haves," but these attributes are what I need to see no matter what job I am filling. The means to find out if people possess these attributes is another discussion and something managers need to figure out … before hiring.

Dear Dave: Our company always cuts the same things when profits are down: People, marketing and training and education. Why do they always pick these three as cost-cutting targets? — Cut Up

Dear Cut: The answer is, simply, myopic-thinking companies look at their biggest expense — people — and say, "There’s the answer… off with their heads!" What a paradox, because it will be talented, hard-working people who will ultimately save the company.

Why, then, is marketing and education always targeted? Because, again, pea-brained company executives fail to see, or believe they cannot directly see, the payoffs of these two major business development necessities.


Effective marketing will sell products that increase production, that keep good people employed. That’s not a tough system to figure out.

Effective training and education will fully develop these coveted people to become the best they can be, which ultimately provides little things like innovation, error reduction and (ahem) great relationships with customers.

The recommendation is to try and market your way out of financial jams rather than choking off the resources that will keep you around.

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