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The ABCs of a Successful Business

What is the most important aspect of your business, hands down?  You know the answer - your people.  Your people make or break your enterprise.  They possess a good work ethic, are productive and create value or they engage in union-inspired behavior, trying to do as little as possible, sucking energy out of your organization. 

Your people either engage, have fun and gain personal satisfaction from combined success or they do just what is required, don’t think about how to increase their value to others & have an “It’s all about me” attitude instead of an “In service to others” attitude. 

You know the story; put the right people in the right positions and you sail to success.  If not, then running your company is one long, dark nightmare.

So the simple ABCs of people management are the single most important element of corporate success. 

As a manager, your function isn’t much different than that of a teacher in school so why don’t we grade our ‘students’ the same way?  Ready?

You shouldn’t have any “F” employees because they have already FIRED themselves.

Your “D” people deserve a DEMOTION, so give it to them and get rid of them; after all you aren’t running a social agency.

However, your forest of C’s hides some gems who are educable, want to grow and be all they can be and win!  Consequently, spend some time in this field, CULTIVATE the crop, teach & help those with ability and ambition.  Assist them in their quest to become winners.

At the same time, CULL out those lacking in the finer attributes, realizing they probably will never become a “B” or, an “A.”

Love on your B’s!  They are numerous enough & doing important enough work to have a significant impact on shared success.  BLESS every “B”, they are the Busy Bees who accomplish most of the work!

AWARD your A’s enough to compensate them for their huge positive contribution and to keep them on a satisfactory trajectory of finding personal fulfillment in their work.

There you have it.  So simple and yet so key. 

Where most people fail to properly implement these simple strategies is on the edges.  They also fail to think like a doctor as well as a teacher!

Some managers are not like the good doctor who is practicing medicine to bring benefit to humanity.  They are too selfish to share enough with their A’s & B’s to keep their good people.  With your high achievers, it is necessary to be open-handed, generous and appreciative.  Those that aren’t don’t often succeed.

On the other extreme, many managers fail because they have too soft a heart for the downtrodden and they fail to see the big picture.  You might say that the medical concept of triage fits the bill with your D’s & F’s.

In other words, it is impossible to save everyone and if too many corporate resources go to the hopeless then those who could have truly benefited from those resources are left bereft, a totally unfair outcome to them.

Jesus addressed this very issue in Matthew 7:6 when He said to not cast your pearls before swine.  Elton Trueblood says of this saying:  “In contrast to sentimentality, which would advise continued effort to win the habitually unresponsive, Christ tells us that we are not to waste precious words or time or effort on those who are chronically impervious.”

Managers must make the organization’s survival and prosperity their top priority.  They don’t have unlimited resources and their job is to focus on the whole.  Consequently, those in deep trouble need to experience enough pain to, just maybe, change their behavior.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but tough love results in more needy people benefiting in the end than mollycoddling ever does.  Unsuccessful managers feel compelled to be a social nanny to the misfits & unfits who refuse to perform, constantly make excuses and expect to be cosseted in a state of perpetual childhood. 

Many of these types can’t bring value to other people through their work contribution because their personal lives are shipwrecked on the shoals of social dysfunction.  Divorce, gambling, drugs - you know the litany - not only affect private lives but the economy as well.

These people can’t show up on time, be responsible and contribute their abilities in a positive way to others.  They need Christ, without whom they will never be able to permanently change their ways. 

Unless you are running a ministry, don’t let them suck you into their maelstrom.  Instead concentrate your time and energies where you can do the most good and ensure success for your team!

So there you have it.  AWARD your A’s, BLESS your B’s, CULTIVATE your C’s, and DEMOTE your D’s and you’ll be on your way to the Promised Land as you create value in the lives of your employees, customers and vendors!  And, don’t forget to be unselfish with your best and the disciplinarian with your worst.

Terry Applegate

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