Back from the Chicago Business Leader’s Conference

Over the weekend I met with (SMB) business leaders in Chicago to discuss principles of running a successful company.  My topics included Hiring Principles of Successful Companies and a session on Time Management.  We also heard from experts from the World Trade Center on setting up international trade relationships, methods of reducing company healthcare costs, establishing systems for success, negotiating skills, and a lot more.

A few points from my talk on hiring:

1. One of the best firing decisions I have ever made – a system engineer who thought that his skill set was so important that he could repeatedly show up for work late without excuse.  He told me our company would fail if we fired him since our current projects required his skills.  I let him go, hired a guy with half the experienced, and within a few months that new hire passed him in ability and went on to generate more profit for our company than any other engineer on the team at that time.

2. One of the biggest hiring mistakes I have ever witnessed (not in my company – but a close work associate), ended with that newly hired financial officer essentially taking over the company, selling it, and cutting the original owner out of the deal.  This guy was clever, experienced, and a professional criminal.  I shared with the attendees how it happened, and how to avoid it – bottom line, make sure you know who is managing your money.

3. One of the best hiring decisions I have ever made involved a school teacher looking to enter the IT consulting world.  He came on at an entry level salary – but eager to learn and happy to have a salary that exceeded his teaching income.  Within a short period of time he proved himself capable of taking over our support center, recreated the entire system including terms and conditions, SLAs, and pricing, and oversaw the entire operation.  Very patient with troubled clients, and doing well today, still working in this industry!  Of course his earning potential multipled quickly.

Hiring and firing – it’s not always obvious what to do, but it pays to learn how to identify great potential.  It also pays to look beyond a person’s current skill set.

© 2012, David Stelzl


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