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September 4, 2017 BIZ BOOKS

How to eliminate 90% of your HR problems

Jim Pawlik

“The Power of People Skills — How to Eliminate 90% of Your HR Problems and Dramatically Increase Team and Company Morale and Performance” by Trevor Throness (Career Press, $16.99).

When things are planned and plans are executed, the outcome depends on the employees assigned to “make it happen” at the front and back ends. The employees charged with driving success are divided into three categories: 1. Stars who own their jobs 2. Those who simply do their jobs, and 3. Deadwood. While many businesses trim the deadwood quickly, they seldom are willing to recognize the difference between stars and job-doers. Throness highlights that difference by citing the Container Store's “winning equation: one great person = three good people.”

With that as the lead-in, he believes that employees are the most valuable assets of any business because they represent its intellectual capital. Given that, leaders at all levels must answer four staff assessment questions to assess whether their employees are stars or job-doers: 1. “Would you hire the employee again?” 2. “Does the employee minimize or add to your stress?” “How would you feel if the employee quit? 3. “If every team member played at the employee's level, would the team be upgraded or downgraded?” 4.“Would it be difficult to find a replacement?”

The answers will allow you to define the traits of your stars (attitude will usually be No. 1) and identify what can be done (i.e. training, coaching) to develop job-doers into stars. They'll also tell you what to look for in new hires and how to bring them onboard. Here, Throness emphasizes attitude, too, which needs to be part of the firm's culture. He's not talking about mission and value statements that no one remembers. He's talking about the way the company does business (e.g. trusting relationships, think it through, do it now, make everything a “WOW,” find better ways, etc.) because employees can relate to these on a daily basis.

The Bottom Line: The business with few stars never achieves its potential.

The “Innovation Landscape Survey” in Appendix A and the “Opportunity Template” in Appendix B will help you craft your game plan.

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