Finding (and keeping) the Right People

Finding (and keeping) the Right People


In his new book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins refers to getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. This cannot apply more to a small and growing business. As entrepreneurs, we cannot compete with large corporates to attract talent using status and money – we are too small and young to have either. We therefore need to find people who are deeply passionate about what the business does and who will be exceptional performers.

They also need to be people who dislike the corporate life intensely so that they thrive on the unstructured and fast pace of an emerging business. What about those who want a job description, set hours and structure? What about those that you have on your team who do not perform to your requirements? There is no such thing as a bad person, only a bad fit.

Knowing when to let go

Those who are uncomfortable will not perform well and will become more and more dissatisfied with the company. You need to get rid of them. Harsh I know. To quote another business legend and author, Jack Welsh, he said the only thing he regretted in all his time at General Electric was that he did not get rid of people sooner. The longer someone stays in the wrong job, the more their self-esteem suffers and it is unlikely they will attract what is right for them.

Letting someone go is the most difficult conversation to have and the guilt will not go away for a very long time. But you must do it anyway. Those who perform well are demotivated being around those who don’t. If you don’t get the wrong people off the bus it doesn’t matter that you tried so hard to get the right people on the bus.

Judi Sandrock
Judi Sandrock heads up Micro Enterprise Development Organisation, or MEDO for short. She has an extensive background in Enterprise Development and Knowledge Management, having created the micro enterprise development arm of Anglo Zimele with 14 hubs at Kumba Iron Ore, Anglo Coal, and Anglo Platinum’s mining operations. An early version of MEDO, this Small Business Network included a walk-in-center in Boksburg and in the first year of its operation, helped over 100 entrepreneurial start-ups, creating over 1 000 jobs. In 2011, Judi launched MEDO, an organisation that has assisted in the region of 200 entrepreneurs. During 2012, Judi will also deliver the Information and Knowledge Management module for MBA students at GIBS.