Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The People Business

Which business is your estate in?  
  1. The cooking-cleaning-driving-childcare-facilities-projects-events business.
  2. The people development business.
Which business would create long-term success on your estate?

"I visited the [Men's Wearhouse] training center, which it calls Suits University, in Fremont, California, with George Zimmer, the company's founder and chief executive, and Charlie Bresler, senior vice president for human development.  And Charlie Bresler stands up in front of everyone and asks, 'What business are we in?'  Everybody says, 'We're in the men's clothing business.'  And he says no.  And somebody says, 'We're in the tailored men's clothing business.'  He says no.  Somebody else says, 'We're in the men's formal wear business.'  He says definitely no.  Finally, there is silence,  Then he says, 'What's my title?  Senior vice president for human development.  And that's the answer.  We are in the people development business.'

Great surfers and staff require the right tools.

Bresler describes a covenant:  'Our deal is we are going to develop your human potential and, along the way, we're going to teach you how to sell men's clothing.  In return, you will provide great service and help develop the firm.  The two things come together, and that's the key to our success.'

In order to get a return on your investment, it's first necessary to make the investment.  If you want a return on your investment in people, the first thing you've got to do is invest in them.  You hire them and train them and develop them  -  you do all the things that will cause them to have the skills and abilities and motivation to do an effective job.  You can't sit there and say, 'Gosh, I don't know why my people aren't doing a good job,' when you haven't put anything into it.  Nothing in, nothing out."

- From An Interview With Jeffrey Pfeffer (Strategy & Business, issue 12, pp. 85-94), author of The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Harvard Business School Press, 1998)