Sunday, July 20, 2008

The HP Way, the KPE Way, and Your Way

Anon, a frequent commentator on my blog, made a remark about our hiring practice the other day:

    So essentially you operate on a FIFO basis. 'Fit in or **** off.'

I would never phrase it so harshly (don't want to offend the kinder, gentler Vlad). But, at some level, YES, our employees are expected to do things our way.

One of the surest roads to failure for any organization is to let every employee operate and solve problems in whatever way they see fit.

Yes, you need to encourage people to think and act with appropriate initiative, but that comes after they learn how things are done. At the point of hiring process, we need to find someone who will first learn our methods.

Starbucks is different from Costa. Costa is different from the Mom and Pop coffee shop around the corner.

Michael Gerber's E-Myth preaches the gospel of standardization. When you run an operation where the lowest paid employee opens the doors in the morning and closes up at night, then you've made some real progress. In many small businesses, the owner is the most expensive employee in the company -- and doesn't get a paycheck. And, unfortunately, that most expensive employee opens the doors in the morning and locks the door at night.

Your company has a culture -- both a professional and a personal culture.

You're either stuffy or low-key, relaxed or formal. Professional or amateur.

And there are two ways to develop that culture. You can decide what you want and work at it, or you can "let it happen." But if you're not working at it, it might happen a lot differently than you had hoped.

If you haven't heard of "The HP Way," please read The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company by David Packard.

"The HP Way" is a simple little phrase that describes a series of cultural approaches that made HP successful (before Carly Fiorina came along). These included a commitment to balancing personal and professional development, and the famous "management by walking around."

- - - - -

Picking new employees is expensive. It takes time. And this cannot be outsourced to India or the handed off to the lowest-paid employee. Which means it takes time from managers, generally the highest paid people in a small organization. So the process needs to be taken seriously.

You need to find people who can fit with your culture, and the culture you try to build.

And you need people who fit your requirements.

I'm sorry I can't hire everyone, but we need the best. And, yes, that means "my way or the highway." If people don't fit in, they need to go away.

Sorry, reality here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:03 PM Anon trying to imply that an employee should be able to do what they want regarding how they perform or act rather than what YOU (the employer...the signer of the paycheck) wants?

    If so, could Anon be so kind as to identify where he/she works? I would love to get paid to do what I felt like whether or not it was in line with my employer...sounds like fun.


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