Are People Your Greatest Asset?

I often hear that people in your company are your greatest asset.  

I beg to differ, like millions of other business owners.

People are not your greatest asset!

The right people are.  

As Jim Collin says in his book “Good to Great”, the right people in your company will help you take it to stratospheric levels. 🚀🚀

Even in a tight labour market, businesses should beware of the temptation to hire just anybody who comes along because a company that hopes to survive and thrive will need the right mix of people to get through. 

We are in tough times, especially in NZ —labour shortages, floods, and the cost-of-living crisis—all of which could lead to knee-jerk business decisions. 

With this in mind, business owners should not view job applicants as ‘stop gaps’. 

One of the most significant risks to growing businesses is to panic and make poor hiring decisions because it only ends in pain for all concerned. 

With the door almost shut on worker immigration in NZ and a government giving no sign that it plans to loosen its immigration restrictions any time soon, there is not much daylight ahead for struggling businesses. 

However, this employment reality has yet to discount the need for companies to hire the right staff with the right attitude so the business can flourish. 

Arguably, a tight labour market is when companies should think more deeply about employing the people who can help ensure the business weathers the economic doldrums. 

Just grabbing the first couple of candidates that apply—even for entry-level roles—is usually a ticket too expensive internal and external problems. 

The wrong people in crucial roles could have a ripple effect that demoralises a broader team and frustrates customers and suppliers. 

I want to emphasise that the ‘wrong’ person for a role does not mean they are ‘bad’ people. That’s easy for some to misinterpret. For example, promoting the most senior engineer in a shop to a manager might seem like a good idea, but what if that person needs management temperament or leadership skills? 

Playing someone ‘out of position,’ as they say in the sporting world, can be incredibly disruptive for the business. Even if it threatens to take longer to find the right person, the potential delay in filling the role and the costs of a comprehensive search will pay off. 

Sometimes it can be hard to know if a new hire will fit the company team and culture well. This is a familiar business dynamic, so the government introduced the 90-day trial legislation in the Employment Relations Act (for companies with fewer than 19 staff). 

The 90-day trial legislation is exactly for this reason

This trial period allows employers to hire new employees for up to 90 days and dismiss them without reason. While this rule can introduce a few nerves on the part of an employer worried they might cross legal boundaries, the legislation is straightforward and should be used strategically. 

Think of the 90-day trial period to build the strongest team, not as a way to test the individual. Your goal should be to ensure that the whole business is working smoothly. Do not be paralysed by the fear of labour laws because, with careful management, you will find that they are generally set up to help the company and the new hire decide on the best fit. 

After all, the wrong hire can do a lot of damage to a company and to the individual concerned. Getting the balance right is in everyone’s interest. 

So, it comes down to one thing that we emphasise in EOS. Right Person, Right Seat.

𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐭𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲. 

1. Culture matters: It is assumed that the main reason people turn up to work is to draw a salary. But smarter employers will try to create greater drives for their employees to encourage them to put in more significant effort. 

Recruiting good people is just half the battle—keeping them excited by offering a compelling vision is far more critical. When people can buy into an idea of why they come to work, they will be far more motivated. 

Ask yourself: ‘Are staff energised to come to work on Mondays? Or are they just coming to work?’ Enthusiasm is vital to building a strong team. 

2. Good leadership: A person with natural leadership skills can be more valuable to a company’s performance than any capital injection. 

A good leader will learn the strengths and weaknesses of team members and, most importantly, nip any problems with workload (or slacking off) in the bud. 

The wrong staff won’t carry their weight, which puts more pressure on a good team and can mean the excellent staff choose to leave. 

Dealing with this problem requires inculcating a culture of discipline and accountability. Every business is outcome-based; without accountability, the leaders micromanage their staff, which frustrates everyone. Pick the right leader, and these problems can be mitigated. 

3. Systems over decisions: While leadership at crucial times is vital for building the right team, leaders cannot be everywhere. To ensure staff remain motivated and can get on with their work efficiently, creating clear systems for all parts of a role can offset any small speedbumps in staff quality. 

Solid foundations and suitable systems make growing, surviving and thriving as a business easier. You can hold on to good people by getting your processes right. If everyone knows what needs to be done and how it should be done, they will be less stressed and more motivated.