Employees are your company's greatest asset, so choose them wisely and treat them well.

Success comes naturally to those companies that understand you are only as good as your people. Nothing affects your bottom line more than your workforce.

If you have the wrong person selling your goods, pulling orders and managing a department, team or the company, it will take much greater effort and expense to achieve success.

Everyone from the mom-and-pop company to the most successful supplier in the industry has been affected by change. Unfortunately, the thing that most affects our bottom line is still performed the same way. Most companies still hire from "gut feelings," train systematically and manage preventatively.

When you hire an irresponsible, unreliable order picker who constantly mis-ships products or misses deadlines, you lose customers. When you hire an insincere, uncaring salesperson who breaks promises and doesn't take the time to learn about the products he or she is selling, you lose customers. When you hire an unqualified, incompetent manager who cannot properly develop others or lead a team, you lose customers.

Companies that put the right person in every job and then train and manage them successfully have seen improvements in all aspects of their business.

Higher attendance records, greater job satisfaction and superior job performance are major influences in how successful a business will be in serving its customers, reaching its objectives and improving the bottom line.

Cost Related To A Poor Hire

Hiring mistakes lead to limited productivity, lower revenues and human resource headaches. They almost certainly end in costly resignation or termination.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates it costs a company no less than one-third of a new hire's annual salary to replace an entry-level employee. For example, if a $12-per-hour driver, warehouse or accounts receivable employee leaves your company for any reason, it will cost at least $10,650 to replace that person. Many experts say when all of the separation, recruitment, new hire, training, and lost productivity costs are taken into consideration, the cost of employee turnover skyrockets to 150% of the employee's annual salary.

When lost sales are added to the turnover equation for those employees who have direct involvement with the customer, turnover cost will be significantly higher. Experts say when a company loses a salesperson or manager, turnover will cost as much as 250% of the individual's salary.

Let's say a PVF house has 15 salespeople, each with annual salaries of $50,000. For whatever reason, three salespeople leave or are terminated a year for a 20% turnover rate in the position. After separation, recruitment, hiring and training costs are measured, the company will spend more than $375,000 to replace these employees. Most likely, the lost productivity and sales will stretch far into a new hire's tenure.

Assume the same company experiences a productivity gap. Its four top producers average $40,000 in revenues per month while the 11 mid-to-low level producers average $25,000. With a $15,000 productivity gap between top producers and all others, the company is losing up to $165,000 per month. Annually, the company is losing $1.98 million by not job matching and hiring people like their top performers.

By hiring smart and staying current with hiring practices and technology, turnover and productivity gaps are 80% avoidable.

Reducing Turnover And Profit-Stealers

According to a 1999 survey in Nation's Business Magazine, 95% of those in the applicant pool say they would be willing to make false statements on their resume in order to get a job. A separate survey of employed people revealed that 56% admit to lying to their supervisors, 41% admit to falsifying records, 35% admit to stealing from their employer and 31% admit to abusing drugs or alcohol. This is your applicant pool!

Along with making the hiring decision in less than five minutes, many companies hire strictly from the resume and an interview. Others add drug screening and reference and background checks but rarely go much further.

By using only the resume and an interview to make a hiring decision, a company is actually using only 14% of the available information on a candidate. When background checks are performed, a job match is enhanced, but still only 26% complete.

Because of legal interview constraints, coached interviews, exaggerated resumes and the problems associated with antiquated hiring methods, successful companies have begun evaluating their candidates more thoroughly. By using more than a gut feeling and the available information to hire, employers have been able to reduce profit-stealing activities like tardiness, absenteeism, poor work ethic, theft and turnover.

Many companies have begun using pre-employment integrity assessments to greatly reduce people challenges businesses face. These tests can alert employers of critical behaviors or attitudes that are not conducive to business success.

However, with more than 2,500 forms of pre-employment assessments on the market, employers need to be sure they are dealing with a company or supplier with a reliable and validated tool.

Hiring And Developing More Top Performers

Whether hiring for an inventory specialist, purchasing agent, outside salesperson or branch manager, success is going to hinge on the candidate's fit to the job. It has long been accepted that 80% of the goods and services are sold by 20% of the salespeople. Unfortunately, in many companies the 80/20 dilemma doesn't apply only to the sales force.

In a time when two of three employees would rather work someplace else, be doing something else or disappoint in the first year of employment, companies need to go into the interview process with a "job success pattern" for the position. They need to know what skills, interests, experiences, characteristics and behavioral traits the ideal candidate must possess and take no substitutions.

It's important for a company to analyze and specify the traits and skills of the ideal candidate for a position and put this in writing. To prepare for the interview process, have a written job description and job success pattern for every position.

The data gathered on top performers is useful not only in building job success patterns but also in comparing candidates to the top performer's benchmark. It also can be used to train, educate and coach mid-to-low level producers.

When building a sales benchmark on top performers, the characteristics to measure are: competitiveness, self-reliance, persistence, energy level and sales drive.

It's not the previous job, personal experience, college degrees or other accepted factors that lead to success in a job, but a fit to the job, its duties and responsibilities that leads to success.

By comparing candidates to job success patterns, an employer will have three important answers before a second interview: can, will, and how well will the candidate do the job? By building success patterns or benchmarks on top performers and then comparing candidates to these patterns, it becomes easy to identify where individuals will fit well into positions and where they may have adjustments to make. These comparisons can become users guides in training and coaching after the candidate is hired.

Coaching The Coach

In addition to training and coaching, managers spend more than 60% of their time dealing with other people challenges. These may involve attempting to alleviate conflict, motivate the uninspired, advance time management skills and set goals for those who don't fit their job. As they deal with these issues, some managers find they cannot concentrate on their own responsibilities, productivity or leadership abilities.

Good managers want to increase their effectiveness but may lack the information necessary for optimizing their training opportunities. By including not only the manager, but his or her boss, peers, direct reports and all other observers of the manager's leadership skills in timely evaluations, managers can be given specific recommendations for improving performance.

By taking inventory of the needs of their management systems, managers can measure their performance in relation to these goals, increase self-awareness, compare perceptions from different workplace sources, clarify the expectations of others and prioritize development needs.

This will always be an industry where relationships count. Therefore, success will always be measured on whom we employ to build and foster these relationships. If our management, sales team and supporting workforce are competent, qualified and assigned to positions they fit, our employees will benefit and so will our business. Morale, teamwork and productivity will improve.

The better we fit individuals to positions and then train and coach them, the better we can service our customers and ultimately improve the bottom line.