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Are you picking winners?

Tom Wall Published on 20 July 2010

Do you remember the first time you learned the valuable lesson of surrounding yourself with good people? If you think hard enough, you might just realize that you first experienced this on the playground. Although it’s tempting to tell a little white lie, I admit I was never the first person picked. But I learned quickly that if I called ‘captain’ first, then I could choose my team and avoid any chance of being left until the very end.

Even as kids we quickly noticed there is a clear difference between performers and non-performers. When it was time to put our teams together, the captains chose the best kids first and left the worst ones until the end. And like life in the grown-up world, there was even some “popularity contests” or “politics” going on back then as well. But for the most part, the same top athletes were always the first to be chosen.

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And just as everyone knew who the best players were, we also knew who the worst were. In fact, as the teams were slowly forming during the morning recess draft, the kids who were already chosen didn’t hesitate to give their opinions to the captain on who they wanted to be picked next.

And that’s no different than what happens today within your business. Like everyone else, you want to have the best people on your team because you know they’ll provide the greatest chance of winning. And whether you realize it or not, everyone on the team eventually sees each other’s performance and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. Soon, your team begins sorting out the good from the bad, even if they aren’t willing to tell you who they are.

Unfortunately, there’s a growing number of people who consider this to be cruel. Somehow, they believe differentiation is unnecessary and can be avoided. Personally I think differentiation is an essential part of everyday living and needs to be given more attention, not less. Whether you need a haircut or heart surgery, you’re going to choose the best person you’re willing or able to pay for, right? You wouldn’t want a bad cardiologist performing surgery on you or a loved one just to avoid hurting the doctor’s feelings, would you? While a haircut will eventually grow out, there’s very little room for error when it comes to choosing a heart surgeon!

So how well are you picking and evaluating your teammates? You might be tempted to say, “Oh, we’re not that big, we only have a couple employees.” But, it’s precisely when you’re small that you need to be especially particular about your personnel decisions. Not only does each person represent a larger percentage of the work that gets done at your dairy, but they are also the ones who set the tone for the rest of your team.

Building your company’s team isn’t the same as picking a heart surgeon. It’s actually more important. Ultimately, if you make bad choices related to hiring or keeping people who weaken your company’s culture and profitability, you’ll actually have to live with the consequences. As for choosing the wrong heart surgeon, you won’t live long enough to realize you made a mistake. PD

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