Building a business isn’t easy. Sustaining one over the long haul is trickier still.
Neither of these ideas is exactly a secret. Whether your company is a startup or an established enterprise, the challenges always come thick and fast: Changing technologies, changing regulations, changing market tastes, economic upheavals – all piled on top of the normal day-to-day hassles involved in running a company.
It probably comes as no surprise that many of those daily hassles involve people.
People can be a problem. They have the capacity to be capricious, unpredictable, and prone to behavior that – from a company’s point of view – defies logic. Yet they are almost always the most important element of any business, and the single strongest determining factor in whether a company succeeds or fails.
Given these facts, it’s obvious that there’s a lot riding on who you hire, what responsibilities and authority you give them, what positions you put them in, and what you empower them to achieve. At PGN, we are given the rare opportunity to get an inside look at the companies we work with, and at the people working at them. All too often, it’s obvious to us that considerations like these haven’t been taken seriously enough.
Just about any help wanted ad will list a series of qualifications, roles, and responsibilities – education and experience requirements, software abilities, or other skills deemed necessary to fulfill a given role. While these may be necessary, in our view they are often the least important factors in determining whether the people you hire succeed or fail – and whether your business does too.
Experience, training, and practical knowledge can all be gained on the job. Character, however, cannot – and there aren’t many easy ways to quantify character requirements in the context of a help wanted ad.
At PGN, it’s our philosophy to consider character first. Do talent and qualifications count? Sure they do – but character counts more.
The successful companies we work with are, without exceptions, teams – people who work well together as a single unit. They are invariably made up of people whose individual characters lend themselves well to working as team members. Not as gurus; not as rock stars; not as prima donnas – as functional, cooperative equals within a group sharing a common goal.
That means willing to check egos at the door, forego drama, forget politics, and get down to the business of working cooperatively and working hard together. And it’s surprisingly difficult to find many people with the “soft skills” – a/k/a character – to do that.
When our agency has succeeded to the greatest degree, it’s because we’ve done exactly that – when we’ve had the right people in place to combine their efforts effectively in pursuit of our clients’ goals. And when we haven’t, it’s often because character has fallen by the wayside, and a “rock star” attitude has entered the mix. Experience has show us that ultimately there’s little that is so disruptive – and ultimately destructive.
Like every other company out there, we make our share of mistakes. Fortunately, we also learn from them – and that’s meant learning to keep bad attitudes at bay, one way or another. We’re always impressed by talent, of course – but it’s good character, and the beneficial business results it creates, that blows us away every time. Great talent may help get a job done – but it’s a great team that keeps a business going.