Invest where it makes the biggest difference

14 07 2012

Simple question: where do you invest the most money and effort when it comes to recruiting for your business or organisation? We have seen this well illustrated recently.

On the one hand, we have seen a string of leaders of banks and other major business organisations who have had to step down. Despite having been recruited with almost infinite amounts of money and effort, they have essentially argued “I knew nothing about this” [insert fraudulent or unethical behaviour here]. Perhaps they are right – perhaps the CEO knows nothing and can impact nothing. (I don’t believe that for a moment, but it is a remarkably self-effacing ploy!)

On the other hand, we have seen – thanks to a whistleblower – the apparently complete lack of time and effort which had been put into recruiting and training security personnel for the London Olympics. After all, they are only to be paid peanuts, so fine if they turn out to be monkeys. The fact that the personal security of many of us will depend on their alertness and skill doesn’t seem to register.

Before you laugh too loud at those revelations in the tabloids, though, you might want to think about how much effort you put, comparatively, into the recruitment of your senior executives versus your hourly-waged, customer-facing staff. Because it is the latter who get to influence your reputation on an hour by hour, minute by minute basis. Their every word and action converts directly to black or red ink on your bottom line. Begging your pardon, but your senior executives generally only impact your reputation after they have driven your ship onto the rocks – or allowed others to do so.

Don’t misunderstand me – I do actually believe that the senior roles in any organisation are hugely important – provided they see their primary role as enabling your people who actually serve customers to get on with the right job, properly resourced and well-led.

My real point is to challenge the under-resourcing of recruitment and training of front-line staff. They are actually the ones who make dealing with you a pleasure – or a never-to-be-repeated experience!

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