I love Keith McFarland‘s philosophy about hiring.
In a recent article in business week smallbiz, McFarland recommends hiring the right people first and foremost. And training training training. The big takeaway from the article? Hire Attitude. Train aptitude.
I’m still a fan of the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, which advocates getting the right people on the bus, then getting them into the right seat. Same philosophy as McFarland.
Both philosophies can be applied to two very different experiences I had in retail stores yesterday. I stopped into Staples, home of the robot employee and Borders, home of the indie artiste employee.
I was so struck by my interaction with the Staples cashier (since it was so different than roboemployee) that I’m still thinking about it today. She was warm, friendly, conversational – just this side of being obnoxious. But she walked that line successfully. And it left a lasting impression. She was a person.
Contrast that with the Borders Books cashier. I listened as she gave her spiel to the person in front of me, and then said the exact same things to me as I was checking out. No realness to her. No warmth. She was a processor.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Hire people, not processors.
What Keith McFarland and Jim Collins are advocating is hiring people, nor processors. You’re hiring people for their attitude, for how well they’ll fit with their manager, their co-workers and within the company culture. Hire the person with the right attitude and chances are you can teach them what they need to know in order to do the job.
Although that’s not always the case, it’s better to have an employee with a great attitude than not. And sometimes it’s just a matter of, as Jim Collins advocates, finding the right seat on the bus for them.
In retail, attitude is everything. We marvel when we walk into a store and there’s more than a warm body attending to us. Imagine if your whole store was full of people and not processors. There’s an energy that pervades throughout the store. An infectious enthusiasm that creates the type of culture and store experience where people want to shop.
That’s what hiring real, honest-to-goodness people gives you. An authenticity that’s lacking from so many retail experiences today.
How are you hiring people and getting rid of your processors?
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