How Can One Possibly Equal Three?

Kip Tindell CEO Container Store

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

I was reading today about Kip Tindell, the 61-year-old Chairman and CEO of The Container Store. He started out in 1978 with two friends and a whopping investment of $35,000.

Today The Container Store has 6,000 employees, 67 locations in the US and annual sales of nearly $800 million.

Mr. Tindell believes a key reason for the success of the store is what he calls their 1 equals 3 hiring philosophy:

‘1 Equals 3’ is our hiring philosophy. One great person equals three good people in terms of business productivity. We have to be selective when interviewing potential employees because of the brand promise we’ve made to our customers to provide exceptional customer service.

We hire only about 3% of all who apply. If you indeed believe that with one great employee, you get three times the productivity of a good employee, you can afford to extensively train them and communicate to them, empower them and pay them 50 to 100% more than what other retailers might pay them.

Our 1=3 employees have tremendous tenure with the company. They feel like owners of the company and strive to do what’s right for each other and our customers every single day.

It’s a win-win-win. Employees win because they’re getting paid twice as much… and what a delight for the entire team to work alongside other great people! The company wins because it gets three times the productivity at two times the payroll cost. But most importantly, customers win with extraordinary service!

I think that’s an incredible philosophy!

It might take us a bit of time to groove in that kind of approach to hiring, but get the idea of having only GREAT employees.

I should point out one other thing Mr. Tindell said:

We’re talking about business productivity. Of course, no one person is better than another person as a person. But if you can, why not hire great people? And you can pay them twice as much and still save, since you get three times the productivity at two times the cost. They win, you save money, the customers win, and all the employees win because they get to work with someone great. These people are the best in the industry, and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and work with them.

I love hearing how successful business owners make their way through the hiring process.

What do you think? Is this something you can do?

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

“Hire Slow, Fire Fast”

Hire Thorough

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You’ve probably heard the classic hiring mantra: “Hire Slow, Fire Fast.”

Let’s look at the pros and cons of this.

Hiring slow makes total sense when you’re taking the time to vet someone fully for an important position. I would almost say the length of time to invest should be in direct proportion to the importance of the position.

If the position has considerable impact on your bottom line, then the more thorough you should be.

That sounds sensible and almost not even worth stating, right?

But some people get a “gut feeling” about someone and regardless of how important the position is, they pull the trigger fairly quickly.

If I had a buck for every business owner that told me how much he regretted hiring someone because he “went with his gut” I’d own a couple of islands in the South Pacific. Well, at least one island.

I don’t have a problem with people getting a very quick sense of how well someone is going to perform. That’s exciting, actually. People have a very high capacity to know things.

But, and especially for important positions, it doesn’t hurt to find out as much as you can about somebody before you hire them. You can complement your ability to know people with good, quality data.

And that requires considerable interviewing, verifying résumés, background checks, testing, and throw in some more interviewing.

What about the not-so important positions? Can you hire fast for those?

Within reason. Again, do you want to bring someone on board who is going to be rough on your other staff or worse, rough on customers?

So, instead of “hire slow,” let’s go with:

“Hire thorough.”

In terms of “fire fast,” well, one thing I’d recommend is to read over what we have on termination and the law.

I’m a big believer in not letting someone overtly or covertly disrupt your scene. The covert character may not be so obvious—well that is what “covert” is, right—but this person is often doing more damage than the one who’s loud and obvious.

Sometimes this person is quite key to your business. Maybe your top salesperson. But I’ve learned something very interesting on this. Often the overall scene improves when you remove this person. Others are willing to pick up the slack, relieved to have a decent workplace again.

Getting rid of someone disrupting your workplace isn’t something you want to keep putting off. Especially if they’re using their talents as leverage against you making a move.

All in all, you want people who want to be there and want to be part of your team.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

Will Your New Hire Improve Those Around Him?


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Now that’s an interesting question. If hired, will this person you’re interviewing improve the people around him?

And what exactly does that mean? In what way should the people around him be improved?

As a fast note, especially if you’re reading the Hiring Tips for the first time, I move back and forth between the gender pronouns “he/she” and “him/her”. I can’t tell you it’s a 50/50 split, but a genuine effort is made. Some feel it’s an unnecessary task, others feel differently. I believe I understand both sides of the discussion, so there it is.

Back to this question of should a new hire improve the people around him.

Well, it would certainly be a strong quality if a new employee comes to work and the following changes are seen in the people working in his area:

  • They are more energetic.
  • They are friendlier to each other and your customers.
  • They take more pride in their productivity and actually produce more.

Is this asking too much of a new hire?


But I don’t think it’s an inappropriate question to ask. It could go like this:

“Mary, if you’re hired to the accounting section, how would you improve the work life of the others in your section?”

If Mary needs to think this over a great deal, then I’m not sure she has experience having done this before.

Then again, Mary may answer immediately with, “Oh, wherever I’ve worked, people seem to enjoy their work more and don’t mind going the extra distance to get things done.”

The person that has difficulty answering the question or delays quite a bit in answering versus the person who knows just what you mean—those are two fairly different candidates.

All in all, you’re looking for someone who possesses the skills the position demands, but it couldn’t hurt if this person also also has a positive effect on those around him.

That would be a very nice bonus indeed.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

A Lesson From the World of Sports

(AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

(AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

When I first started the Hiring Tips, I mentioned I would give you a tip from time to time to help you improve staff performance. This is such a tip.

When it comes to sports, I enjoy many of the things most spectators enjoy: the competition, the intensity, the passion to win, and of course watching extremely talented people do incredibly talented things.

But I also enjoy the fine points of winning, the small details.

What is very intriguing is watching two or more players work together to make something happen (score a basket, a goal, etc.).

For example, in hockey, basketball and soccer, a great deal of importance is placed on the ability to PASS the ball (or puck).

There are players who derive greater satisfaction from a precisely-delivered pass than from actually scoring. Seasoned basketball fans are awed by the combination of a fantastic pass culminating in a score. I certainly am.

A game is played to win. In order to win, individual players blend their skills and their actions with other players. Teams made up of JUST individuals, even those highly talented, often fail against teams composed of people who work hard on working together.

I must say that is a very interesting concept:

People who work hard on working together.

The next time you watch a well-played game, observe the degree of teamwork on both teams. Look for the subtle details and you’ll see some really exciting give-and-take that you might not ordinarily see.

The more a group of people works together as a team, the more that group gets done and the easier it is to get things done.

This is true in sports and of course is true in the business world.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

An Easy and Powerful Way to Improve Staff Performance

[As mentioned, in addition to providing you with “hiring tips,” we’ll also provide tips to help you improve staff performance.]

To increase performance these days, some companies send their staff to motivational seminars. These seminars can get good results, but if they are mainly “motivational,” we often see the effects wear off in days or weeks.

Some companies put their staff through training programs to help them handle the details of their post and to relate better to their customers. These can also be quite beneficial.

And some businesses use rewards programs to increase staff productivity. These have varied workability, some work splendidly, others are not so effective.

In this tip, you will be given a very simple way to increase the performance of the people who work for and with you. And as the title of the article indicates, it may possibly be the most powerful way to accomplish increases in staff output and effectiveness.

And here it is:

Acknowledge them when they’ve done something right!

People work for all kinds of reasons. We know the obvious ones. A not-so-obvious reason is to be recognized in some way for what they do. Especially when they do something right.

When somebody in your business does something right, LET THEM KNOW IT. Acknowledge them in some way.

Tell your secretary, “Thank you, Mary, for getting that report to me on time.”

Alice would love to hear that she’s been handling the switchboard exceptionally well the last few days.

Even the most seasoned salesperson will appreciate it when you shake his hand after a sale and say, “Bob, you handled that customer very professionally. Great job.”

Before you decide that this is too simple or that it just wouldn’t apply to your business, let’s look at an underlying principle at work here. People just simply appreciate acknowledgement or recognition. Don’t you? Do you not appreciate it when somebody sincerely acknowledges you for something you’ve done well?

Every group (whether it is a family or an organization) is built upon the willingness of the individuals composing it. You significantly increase that willingness when you acknowledge and recognize people for what they do.

This does not mean that you run around all day telling everyone you see how great and wonderful they are. We’re not talking about an airy-fairy or touchy-feely thing here. We are talking about a basic principle that is capable of increasing your staff’s willingness to produce and that willingness is actually your greatest capital.

Should you present year-ending or quarter-ending awards to your staff at a lavish dinner engagement? Sure.

Should you implement an incentive program that your staff agree with and will produce more to achieve? As long as it is viable for the business itself, absolutely.

Wouldn’t these types of programs recognize your staff in an appropriate way? Most certainly.

Those types of programs, however, are not the point of this article. The type of acknowledgement being discussed here is for the day-to-day running of things. When someone in your outfit does something well, say or do something that shows you appreciate that. Even if it’s a fast gesture or nod, it will communicate. Every effort you make on this will pay off.

I realize that some of you may have a hard time acknowledging your staff or expressing appreciation. I understand that. If you’re not comfortable acknowledging when others do things well, my suggestion is to implement this principle in small steps. A little here, a little there. I’m not patronizing here – a gradual approach to this will help you accomplish something that could be very valuable to your business.

Businesses perform much better when the people who make up the business are recognized on a day-to-day basis. They are more willing, more eager to do even the small things that are sometimes crucial to success.

You can and should get your staff applying this principle with each other. It will have a ripple effect.

“Alan, you handled that irate customer superbly. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves on that one.” Alan smiles and is more willing to roll up his sleeves the next time.

Does this principle have application outside of a business setting? Could it be used with friends and family? The answer is a resounding yes … but you already knew that


To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

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