Building People, Not Companies

April 24, 2017

As a leader, how do you feel about this topic?

  • It is important to develop people first. If you want your business to grow, you need to focus on the people
  • Work bottom up -people build the business.
  • The topic makes me sad. It is a practice that makes sense but so many companies are not focused on this.
  • Leaders do not understand how to practice this and stay aware of their employees development
  • Building a company is still a good intention, but the priority is off.
  • Need to find balance
  • The People ARE the organization

5 Questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Who are we investing ourselves into? (people in our company, community, family, etc.)
  2. Who are the three people you are going to build in your organization?
  3. What are the skills that they need?
  4. Who has untapped potential?
  5. What changes in personnel must we make?


  • Opportunity
  • Recruiting
  • Skill sets
  • Training
  • People
  • Succession planning
  • Finding a happy medium where you can build both the company and the people
  • Some companies are so desperate for help that they hire anyone and ignore the cost and time needed to develop that person
  • Need to think about the long term
  • Development needs to be fluid, not rigid
  • Some people are good for the future, but hard keep in the “right now”
  • “Jumping around” in jobs is very popular. Some companies try too hard to keep them happy instead of keeping them challenged.
  • The risk of training someone and having them leave is less than the risk of NOT training someone and having them stay
  • Engage with employees
  • New technology replacing employees – how do you keep them engaged but also take advantage of the efficient technology?
  • Idle works need an outlet and it is usually negative
  • When a new employee joins a team and is welcomed by many technologies, they are often open to accepting more when they think it is the “norm”
  • Hire the best people and the work will come
  • Marketing & Sales / Business Development & Sales
  • How do you know how much time to invest before termination?
  • Underperforming employees affect good employees. Having one person in the wrong place hurts everyone on the team
    • We can’t ignore the top performers just because they’re doing well
    • We can’t spend all of our time fixing low performers
    • Always waiting to make a decision or take action. Sometime no decision is worse than a bad decision.
  • We tend to focus a lot on the process & procedures and we can forget about the people
  • Skills to evaluate:
    • Interpersonal Management Skills:
      • Communication
      • Listening
      • Empathy
      • Emotional Intelligence
    • Awareness of their fears / what’s blocking them from success
      • Identify the “little voice”
    • Leadership
    • Character:
      • Integrity
      • Social Justice – who are we really?
        • Always be aware of the times when your integrity is tested
        • Story shared about a woman who started working for a school and realized that the other teachers were singling out the Jewish students. The woman went to the school board and stood up for what was right and stated if they don’t make any changes/get rid of those teachers, that is not a place where she would like to work. The school board ended up terminating those teachers who were singling out the Jewish students.
        • Another example: referencing the Bible – Daniel in Babylon and Joseph stood up for their integrity
    • Competency
    • Chemistry – team building
    • Authenticity
    • Recognize / ability to provide good feedback/coaching


  • Can’t keep reworking old recruiting solutions, they won’t work.
  • CEO’s need to be forward-looking, innovative, and it will probably be uncomfortable
  • If you see “problem people” you need to move quickly – development or termination
  • Some investments take time to flourish
  • Need to talk to employees about what they want and what incentives work for them
  • Look for initiative and entrepreneurship, for people who want to develop themselves and take ownership
  • Develop “core curriculums” so people can develop themselves and show initiative
  • Mentoring relationships are critical to development
  • Succession planning
    • Executives need to “work themselves out of a job” by training the people around them to continue flawlessly without them
    • Need to start at 25 and grow into an executive role. Most people start at 45
    • Change the mindset about succession planning
      • Not always at the Senior level
      • Don’t be “job scared” – a company will always find a spot for good people
      • Core value testing
      • Engagement is not always what people think. It’s a true understanding of the fit and what the needs are
  • Leaders need to build the confidence/guts to take action
  • Understand that sometimes releasing an employee is allowing them to develop and find a place that better suits them
    • Know when you can’t coach or help people anymore
    • Give a job description instead of a title. Many employees strive for a title without understanding the responsibilities of the role.
  • Focus on being people friendly vs. money friendly
  • Start with the hiring/vetting process then invest or divest
    • Measure the cost of the effort to hire effectively vs. the effort it takes to correct a wrong hire down the line. Do the work upfront in the hiring process.
    • Use strength finders
  • Find out what training works for which people. It is not one size fits all.
  • First who, then what – Jim Collins = Look for the people who are right for the company (culture, values), the work will come.
  • Use “management by wandering around”. You need to be available to your people, not locked away in an office/conference room.
  • Ask the right questions – not Yes, no, one size fits all questions. Ask questions that provoke thought.
  • Pause before reacting. Ask questions to see the situation from another view point.
    • How can we develop this skill?
    • What do you do in situations that catch you off guard.
    • Suspend judgement and look at intent
      • Ask what caused the issue. Lack of education, ineffective process, etc.
  • You don’t need to pay people to oversee your employees if they are developed properly


  • Find the best you can and invest
  • Motivation (employees) vs. inspiration (leaders)
  • Leaders need to inspire those around them, workers need to be motivated to “follow them through the fire”
  • Avoid getting too busy in business to stay in touch with the dynamics of the employees
  • Perspective: not new problems
  • Hard work – define – retrain
  • Focus on relationships instead of always coming from a place of authority
  • Focus on solutions instead of punishments
  • Management by wandering around – I need to make myself more available to my employees
  • Leading takes time and energy. It is hard work and a big responsibility.
  • Relationships and trust are necessary to coach and grow.
  • Be vulnerable. We can’t be perfect every time.
  • John’s gospel – Jesus built into him: Peter, James, Andrew, etc.
  • Find 3 people to build into intentionally
  • Eyes wide open – don’t get so caught up in the “to do list” and recognize when people are more open to building into them – don’t miss these opportunities!
  • Turning the direction around to us – how do we be someone that others will want to build?
    • What skills do we need?
    • What is our untapped potential?
  • Don’t repay evil with evil – repay evil with good and don’t lash back
  • How can we be a blessing to someone today?