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Don’t Let a Champion Get Away – Jordan-Sitter Associates

Don’t Let a Champion Get Away

by Bill & Chris Sitter

In order to soar in your market, recruit people whose remarkable strengths far exceed any minor lacking skills.

Recently I had occasion to review a 1992 paperback classic, “Soar With Your Strengths” by Clifton & Nelson. The premise is that successful teams and companies should be willing to draft, recruit, hire or promote ladies and gentlemen who have extraordinary talents and proven skills; then it’s essential that senior leadership makes certain these strengths are used to the max.

Now, let’s relate the soaring with strengths concept to the real world challenges faced by AED dealers and their supplier partners.

I like the remarks made by the Chinese ping-pong team coach after his team dominated the 1984 Olympics. “We practice eight hours a day perfecting our strengths… if you develop your strengths to the maximum, the strength becomes so great it overwhelms the weaknesses. Our winning player (best in the world) you see, plays only his forehand. Even though he cannot play backhand, and his competitor knows he cannot play backhand, his forehand is so invincible that it cannot be beaten.”

The point is to focus on, nourish and reward personal strengths and place especially gifted champions in positions where their weaknesses (yes they’ll have some) can be managed or delegated for the success of the company and the person, resulting in a clear win-win. Certainly, every GM or CEO relishes the notion of having superstar impact players in all key roles. However, in lean times most supervisors and managers must be multitalented and capable of wearing many hats so the enterprise can survive. And no GM wants to settle for mediocre middle managers, but perhaps he or she can afford one or two people with extraordinary skills in one area, say selling, even if they have obvious shortcomings, like report writing or detail documentation.

Many will recall the comic graphic of an “OSHA Cowboy.” He and his horse were so laden with safety devices that he was incapable of riding and roping. Likewise, hiring authorities can easily go overboard by designing a list of hiring criteria that looks quite impressive on paper but contains some relatively unimportant requirements that may eliminate the highly talented person your distributorship badly needs.

Sift Talent from Trivia

For 30 years our executive search firm has helped distributor and manufacturer clients develop detailed position specifications. These are key because they establish the hiring process bull’s-eye and foundation for every search. However, we often see “nice but really not relevant” requirements. For example, many CEOs lack college degrees; so is it logical to eliminate potential service or parts manager candidates who lack the sheepskin credential? Is it wise to eliminate “water-walking” sales applicants because they dislike report writing? Finally, does it make sense to insist that a new product support vice president has a past history as a mechanic and can disassemble a transmission or torque converter? (Especially since today’s product support executives must be strong in general management areas including: parts and service marketing, business savvy, people skills, problem solving, motivation, P&L management, and communications.)

Finally, we offer these tips to help your dealership soar with the strengths of your associates:

    • Assess your organization chart to determine if you can make good use of one or two special performers, whose uncommon strengths and talents would make your business more successful.
    • Develop realistic position specs that eliminate requirements for nice but non-essentials to avoid turning off potential impact players. (E-mail us for a complimentary position spec template.)
    • Selectively recruit the “eagles.” Make sure you and the new hires address their weaknesses and have a plan to provide support so he/she can focus heavily on their (“forehand”) strengths.
    • Provide a culture that encourages people to make their strengths even stronger.
    • Provide training to overcome glaring shortcomings while taking care to prevent him or her from losing heart.

Encourage your people to soar with their God-given strengths and enjoy the journey.