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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why Matching Employee Values to Company Values is Crucial

Many small businesses I deal with have difficulty finding good employees. One insurance company I'm meeting with next week sent me the question, "How do I motivate sales people who are not self-motivated?"

I thought, well let me shake my magic crystal ball and rattle off the answer to you.

As crazy as that question sounds, it is the one question that at one time or another, every business owner lies awake at night staring at the ceiling, contemplating the answer to.

The essence of the question, however, goes beyond motivation and gets to the issue of how do I find employees who value what I value and value what the company values. I'm not even going to try to attempt answering that question here. I'll save that for the topic of an entire book I may someday write. What I want to mention is how absolutely important it is that you hire only the most value consistent employees that you can find for your company. I would further clarify this by suggesting you leave a position vacant until you can find such an employee and don't just jump on the first square thing that floats by that you can somehow pound into your round hole to temporarily ease your pain.

My friend, Scott Hodge, a pastor at a church near Chicago and original inspiration for starting my blogging journey, posted this video yesterday on his blog.

It's not a true example of business, customers and employees, and it's an analogy that I've received some criticism for in the past, but I think it drives home a very obvious point that for most Americans can relate to in some form. Let me explain. My analogy would place Jesus as the business or product, employees as Christians and customers as the people represented by those being interviewed in the video.

Shocking how it is easy for people to have some sort of a good opinion about a company (Jesus), but a horrible - to the point of not even wanting to comment in come cases - opinion of employees. Now, knowing that your product or service is being represented by your employees, do you want people to say I'd love to buy that product or service, but those employees make me so sick to my stomach that I can't even stand to go in the store.

If you disagree, think of your favorite kind of car. Now think of the experience you expect when you go to buy that car. If you like Chevy, I'm guessing you probably don't like Chevy car sales people. Same with life insurance. When your grandpa died and left you money, you probably liked the insurance, but you probably don't want to sit down with a life insurance sales person.

Bottom line is that before you hire a quick fix employee to help you out of a pinch, consider how their values compare to your company's values or run the risk of clients having a split opinion about your company.

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