Published - August 2000

By Dave Jakielo


Sam Walton the founder of the Wal-Mart empire once said, "You can take all my buildings, trucks and inventory, but leave my people and I'll have it all back in less than three years."

In other words he realized that there is nothing more important than the people we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. One given in life is that no one can do it all; no one can be successful alone. We must rely on others to help us achieve our goals.

If people are so integral to our success why does it seem so hard to find good people? As I travel around the country and the world, one consistent theme I hear over and over is, "If only I could find the right people, my problems would be solved."

Before you give up on humanity ask yourself this question. "What have I done to develop individuals so they can be successful?

Many of us say we can't find good people to work in our firms, so if you can't find them develop them. How you may ask? Well two factors must be given before the development process can begin:

1. You must want to share and teach.
2. They must want to learn and grow.

Sometimes development doesn't take place because the person with experience is unwilling to share. They feel that hoarding knowledge makes them irreplaceable. You know it is said when we teach we are learning twice. Another time the process fails is when the person we would like to help grow and develop are not interested. Many times people do not want to pay their "dues" on the path to self-development.

Just the other day it happened again, I was conducting a coaching session with an employee who has had an attendance problem and ask them, "Why they were missing so much work?" Their response was, "well if you paid me more and gave me more responsibility I would try harder." This is an example of someone who doesn't have a clue what it takes to be a contributing member of a successful team.

There is another trap many of us as leaders fall into. It is not giving enough responsibility to those who crave it.

You will cross paths with employees who want to do more and learn more but we stifle them by not taking the time to teach them or allow them to learn and do new things. Trust me if you ignore an employee long enough they will leave and become your competitor.

So if your willing and they are willing what should you do? I think there are three main areas that must be addressed to allow people to develop, they are:

1. Leadership: They must learn by following your example. Ask yourself this question. Do they see me in the learning process? Do they see me reading industry journals, business books etc., and then utilizing that additional knowledge in the workplace.
2. Teamwork: For the employee who wants to do more, do you give them a chance to be a team leader or head up a special project? Allowing them to tackle a task outside of their realm of responsibility is food for their soul. It helps to reenergize them.
3. Mentorship: Remember, "NEVER BE SO BUSY YOU CAN'T TAKE THE TIME TO TEACH." When I look at most people's "to do" list, training time is either at the bottom or not even listed at all. How can people do the right thing if you never take the time to show them or tell them what you want?

Unfortunately, in our hectic work environment we are so busy being busy that our greatest resources, our people, are being severely underutilized. A good self-test to take before you start any task is to ask yourself, "Is there anyone else who could do this job or would like to learn how to do this job?"

I wish you much continued success.

Any comments or question about the above can be directed to me via email - or by calling 412-921-0976.
P.S. If you missed any of my past articles they are available at my website,

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