In my last post I started reflecting on the “extended courtship” that we should promote between us and our employees. But as my thoughts developed I realized that our “business girlfriends” are comprised of much more than just our employees. (I’m assuming you are of the male gender here. If not, please accept my apologies and make the appropriate literary changes as you read!)
You see, the whole process of starting relationships with “girlfriends” in business is very similar to how we start them in our personal lives. Think about it: As any courtship starts out it usually involves a highly refined selection process, much of which takes place on a subconscious level. The three main areas include shared interests, shared values, and physical attraction.
Shared interests. Think back to your first date or two with that person you were really crazy about. It was a time of excitement and discovery. You’d spend hours talking with her and finding out about her. Did she enjoy the same music you did? Was she interested in the arts, theater, or sports? You found out about her family and what her childhood was like. You couldn’t stop thinking about her or talking about her to your friends. And you sure couldn’t wait until the next time you saw her!
We use a similar process in attracting employees to our companies. We look for employees who we believe have the best interest of our companies at heart. On the flip side, prospective employees look for a company they think will help them achieve their personal and professional goals. Nothing wrong with either one of these goals- all of us logically look out for #1!
Having shared interests also extends to the suppliers we do business with. If a supplier is only interested in selling us a product so he can meet his own sales objectives, regardless of whether it’s the right product for us, he doesn’t really have our interest at heart. And this relationship will probably be a short one.
Shared values. In addition to common interests, we also examined the values our girlfriends lived their lives by. This was a time when we found out about her religious beliefs, political leanings, financial habits, and her feelings about family.
We also tend to hire employees who share the same values we live our lives by. I believe this is one of the reasons we so often attract employees of a similar age, socio-economic background, and even religious beliefs.
Customers look for companies that operate from values similar to theirs. Typically, among them are fairness, integrity, quality of work, quality of service, and even price. If we don’t share these values with our customers, either they will not be attracted to our company, or they won’t be our customers for very long.
Physical attraction. There are physical characteristics we look for in the customers we choose to do business with, as well. Marketing people refer to these characteristics as demographics. They include things like age, gender, income, education, how closely they’re located to our business, and whether they can send us enough work to justify the time it will take to make them a customer.
Potential employees have physical characteristics we look for too. Are they physically capable of performing the work we need them to perform in their jobs? Are they available to work the hours we need them to work? Do they have the skills we need them to have to perform their jobs?
When we use shared interests, common values, and the physical ability to perform as a guide in attracting employees, customers, and suppliers, we’ll find that business is not only much more fun, but we’ll achieve our goals much faster, as well.