People who share and promote your vision
One of the projects I’m involved with right now is giving face to face business advice to local companies via a couple of county council schemes, one of which involves monitoring the progress of companies in receipt of development grants.
I recently had follow up meetings with a couple of these immediately preceding going into hospital to have a knee replacement.
Both the companies I talked to were in the business of presenting a vision of perfection to their customers – one is a boutique speciailising in Prom dresses, the other is a stunning innovative events venue. Both were suffering from staff who had been recruited without taking into account their need to have an attitude of focusing on the appearance of the place.
In our own experience the times when we have created a proper, detailed job specification before interview are when we have got the best results. So if you are running a venue where people are enacting their dreams – weddings, product launches, etc – you need to employ some one who thinks like a front of house manager rather than a maintenance engineer to make sure that the facility looks pristine.
Wally Olins in his book, Olins on Brand, once observed that in a service business you spend 90% of your time money and energy keeping your own people onside rather than promoting the product.
Which brings me to the Hospital.
I had my knee done at the Horder centre in Crowborough which is a charity that has a contract with our local NHS for doing knees, hip and shoulder replacements. While it is technically a private supplier it’s ethos is more like John Lewis or the co-op.
I have never been in a place where the alignment of everyone you met with the corporate purpose is so complete. Everyone from the volunteers who show you around and carry your bags, through the staff that bring you cups of tea to the surgeon were dedicated to making you feel at home and looked after. The sense of mission was palpable.
Now whether it is easier to achieve this in a not for profit compared to a private business I’m not sure but I bet that somewhere in their selection and interview process there’s a bit about aligning with the what the organisation seeks to deliver. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.
Conventional wisdom is that you hire on ability and fire on attitude.
Maybe that’s the wrong way round.