Business Sexy

Let’s talk about sex.

Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I read a blog by Neil Morrison about making HR sexy (http://change-effect.com/2013/09/29/get-your-sexy-on/). I agree with it entirely, if you want people to do things differently they need to be interested, if you aren’t going to make things interesting – well, you fall at the first hurdle.

Quite often we take lessons from ‘real life and apply them to business. I think that sometimes we can benefit from doing the reverse. It reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago about how business best practice can be applied to both relationships (and sex).

Before I continue I’d like to make the following disclaimer: I’m happily married (‘no recent experience’) , I’m useless with the opposite sex (‘no track record in this sector) and I’m therefore giving this advice confident in the fact I’ll never need to use it.

Think of it like being a bit like bad exec coaching.

So, on to the lessons from business that you can apply to your very private life…

Market strategy – when choosing a partner you either need to be first to market (not literally, they may have had other joint ventures previously) or you need to be able to commit wholeheartedly to delivering a differentiated offering. Try to stay away from crowded sectors when advantage may be competed away before you can establish a commanding market position. You want to enter an untapped market and create significant barriers to entry for other interested parties. Occasionally you may find an opportunity that is potentially high yield, but has been dismissed by other investors. Depending on your risk appetite you may want to ‘go early and go big’ in this instance.

Recruitment policy – recruit for attitude and train for skills. This is where the sex comes in. The conversation I had was with a lovely woman looking for a new partner and they listed all the attributes any potential partner would need. It took some time. It was a long list. It finished with ‘good in bed’.

I explained that their wish list would exclude every male on the planet, except a younger George Clooney – and I’ve always told my wife that everybody knows he is really poor in bed. Accept that if you find someone you like then you should invest time working on the team dynamics in the bedroom. Whether you attempt this inhouse or as an away day event over a weekend is entirely up to you – but the point is the hiring decision should be based on fitness and potential, rather than current competence. Yes, I suppose you could read ‘fitness’ in a couple of ways in that last sentence.

If you do use psychometrics within the recruitment process be clear on how much of the decision this will inform and ensure that all feedback is constructive and timely. People can get offended if, in certain intimate situations, you explain that you are disappointed that they aren’t more of a completer finisher.

Above all remember that a disappointing candidate experience will have an impact on your broader brand.

Onboarding/induction – the individual was most likely a poor fit with their previous organisation, so it is worth dealing with any angst from this in the onboarding phase, whilst not dwelling on any painful experiences. Depending on your individual policy you may have a probation period. Be clear with individuals what situations may cause them to fail this probation – bringing particular attention to the fact that they are contractually obliged to refrain from working for a competitor whilst engaged by you.

Next move onto some tiered skills training to get them to match your performance requirements. I would advise against the use of an external coach during the training. The training environment usually cannot comfortably contain a third participant and it can make a significant negative impact on dynamics in a traditional structure.

Alongside this you will be undertaking a cultural induction – letting them know exactly how we do business around here. It is really important to be clear about your own Values and ensure that your recruit will be comfortable with them over time. This is particularly important if you expect them to be employed, longer term, in producing successors within your family business.

Performance reviews – my wife runs these quite relatively effectively for me. I get regular on the spot feedback from her combined with more formal reviews .I know these are formal reviews as

i) I’m expected to provide detailed evidence of having made a contribution and this is given considerable scrutiny

ii) she regularly sets me clear targets at the end of the conversation that are very specific, measurable and most certainly time bound. We differ on whether they are achievable and reasonable.

iii) She will also revisit these conversations (regularly) and refer to agreements made within them over the course of the year.

I’m expecting a performance review right after she reads this…

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