It is rightly said that a leader is like a farmer. The wise farmer knows that the productivity of the farm more than anything else depends on the choice of quality and variety of seeds.
Fundamentally, the chief role of the farmer is to create the right environment for plants to grow and protect them from enemies such as pests, insects and diseases.
Unless the seeds are of good quality, in most cases no amount of care can produce a good harvest.
In the same way, the main role of a business manager is to select good employees and create the right environment for them to thrive and be productive to the business.
As such there are certain key attributes that define a good manager.
First, like a diligent farmer, they must have the ability and willingness to select the best ‘breed or variety’ of employees available in the market at whatever cost because they know the outcome depends on it more than everything else.
Trying to get results from unsuitable or incompetent employees through training and motivation is like planting poor seeds or unsuitable variety in your farmer and expecting to get a bumper harvest by providing adequate manure and other farm care.
Second, when they realise they have picked the wrong seed they must get rid of it as soon as possible because they know no amount of care can make it productive. They must be slow to hire and quick to fire.
Third, they prune plants regularly to remove outgrown branches that stress the plant or hinder the growth of other plants. They do regular appraisal and reviews to determine the suitability of the employees’ continuity.
With time some of your employees may change, ‘outgrow’ and become toxic to other employees and liability to the company due to ego, jealously, pride or other factors. Such employees become unproductive and affect the productivity of others as well. Unless you remove them others will not thrive and your organisation will suffer.
Fourth, they don’t treat all employees the same. Different varies and types of plants have different requirements – some require more manure, water, sunshine and space to thrive. So don’t treat all employees the same. Understand their unique needs and attend to them in order to get the best out of them.
Employees are the most important element in the matrix of business success. They are far more important than even the customers because they take care of the latter.
All successful enterprises have this in common - quality employees in terms of attitude, competency and readiness to learn and continuously improve their skills and survive delivery.
However, good employees must be well taken care of by the employer in terms of remuneration commensurate with their competency and profitability of the enterprise.
Most employers get it wrong when they treasure the customer more than the employees who make the customer part with their money. If you take good care of your employees right from the hiring, training and rewarding them well you don’t have to worry about customers.
Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and the author of The Art of Entrepreneurship: Strategies to Succeed in a Competitive Market. [email protected]