People: The Hardest Part of Business

By Stephen Garber

In Amsterdam (where I lived for seven years in the 1970s, just sayin’), if they don’t like you, they do not call you names or suggest rude self-inflicted behaviors. Instead, their greatest insult is, “I wish you lots of personnel.”

Managing people is the hardest part of running a business. For those of you who think it’s strategy, process, finance, marketing or another essential part of your business, think about these two perspectives:

How do you decide, implement and review those parts of your business? With people.

Peter Drucker reportedly said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Mark Fields made it famous, later becoming chief executive of automotive giant Ford.

I hear you saying: “But today is all about Artificial Intelligence, big data …” Indeed, business success means embracing the digital future or else watching your business fade away.

And, it is still about people. There is a reason Marcus Lemonis, the billionaire businessman and star of “The Profit” on CNBC, says the three key aspects he assesses of businesses are people, process and product. And his top two rules (of 10) for success are:

Don’t be an ass.

Make your employees No. 1.

We all want growth, profit and success. The great among us want those things while providing great jobs, and providing a meaningful benefit to our customers. You are not reading this magazine or this article if you don’t, I’d imagine.

Here are some secrets to creating a successful culture:

Create a mission, a vision and a set of values—for all. Walk the talk. Engage your team in the process.

Listen to your team. Everything you need to know about your business lives in the hearts and minds of those that deliver your business.

Reflect. Tell them what you’ve heard. Enter into open dialogue. Explain your thinking. The more you listen and probe, the more you will learn.

Respond. After you have had a chance to review and reflect, let them know what you have done, are doing, and will do.

Iterate. Try things with your team. Test and fail. Try again.

Celebrate. Even when you fail, and particularly when you succeed.

People—the hardest and most valuable part of our lives … and business. ♦

Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or [email protected]

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