If You Build It, They Will Come

Do you remember the movie “Field of Dreams?” “Shoeless Joe Jackson” whispers to Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come!” This father and son movie was about faith, hope and redemption. Eleven Christmas’s ago, my family and I were staying at the Four Seasons in Seattle for two days during the holidays, a sort of recharging of the batteries. My then 12-year old son, Colin, and I were standing at the front desk when I noticed Kevin Costner walk by. I said to my son, “Hey, Colin, there goes Kevin Costner!” Needless to say, he did not believe me. The woman at the front desk smiled and whispered, “Yes, it is. He is leaving today.” As we walked out the front door for lunch, he was standing waiting for his car. I smiled and said, “Kevin, I truly admire your work. The characters you portray have a common theme that appeals to many people. Your work is making a difference.” He smiled and humbly said, “Thank you.” Then I said, “How is your golf game?” (Knowing he was avid golfer.) His face lit up and he began talking enthusiastically talking about his short game. My son stood in awe, after all, this was KEVIN COSTNER, the movie star! He then turned to my son and asked, “Do you play ball?” Colin smiled, turning three shades of red, and admitted he did. “Are you any good?” I smiled and affirmed he was. Kevin’s car arrived after a very spirited ten- minute conversation. He shook our hands and drove off.

As we walked away, Colin said, “What a nice guy. Why did he talk to us so long, Dad?”
I thought for a minute and replied, “I think it’s because famous people like to be treated like regular folks and regular folks like to be treated like famous people.” I went on to say, “Remember the film Tin Cup? We talked about something in which I knew he had a passion for, golf. We also started the conversation with sincere appreciation. Everyone craves that son.”

A river never rises above its source. How do you decrease turnover and attract great people to your organization in this drum tight labor market? I turned to one of my clients in Toledo, Ohio for the answers. I was hired to assist him in increasing his sales. He has a line of people waiting to come to work for him. Why? As I interviewed him for this article, I was able to identify a number of elements that were causal to this phenomenon. The observable behaviors are as follows:
The first thing out of his mouth when he sees one of his employees is, “How is your family?” He genuinely cares about people.
He pays a little more than his competition.
He passionately believes in training of all kinds.
“Mi Casa, Su Casa.” Translated from Spanish, “My house is your house.” If one of his guys needs to borrow anything the company has, like a flatbed truck over the weekend, it’s theirs to use. He trusts them.
He promotes from within whenever possible.
He has a passion for Service and he takes unhappy customers personally.
He surrounds himself with good people and then gets out of their way.
He loves what he does. (He is in the mechanical contracting business.)
Someone once asked Chi-Chi Rodriguez after a particularly great round of golf on the Seniors tour why his touch on the greens was so amazing. He smiled and said, “Maybe it’s because I mowed them for so long!” Norb has done it all in his business and his people know it and can ask him anything.
He is not afraid to say, “I don’t know. Let’s go find out.”
Finally, he never stops growing, and he is flexible. He knows what he wants and is willing to change, grow and adapt.

These aren’t the only reasons, but they are some of the obvious ones.
If you are responsible for finding and keeping good people, look inside first. Before you invest a huge amount of money on advertising and promotion, consider the following questions:
What’s been my turnover rate inside my company the last four years?
Why do people leave?
What can I do to reduce turnover and attract the people I need?
I am not suggesting don’t advertise. I am saying consider investing a portion of your discretionary capital in growing and improving your culture from the inside out. Become more. Grow yourself and your people. Consider this simple truth, “Everyone needs two things, to be understood and appreciated.” Do your employees feel that way in your company? When was the last time you asked them in non-threatening way?

If you build it, they will come. Like the Field of Dreams, people will knock on your door if you become the company of choice by treating people with dignity and respect.

I believe the quality of our lives is in direct proportion to the quality of our relationships. These ideas applied can have a dramatic effect for good on the quality of your life. And, oh yes, if it makes you smile, think and take action, then I have succeeded.

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