By MaryEllen Tribby
During my career I have hired, trained and mentored hundreds of people.
I can usually determine after the first week of working with someone what their “make or break” is. I can conclude if they will excel or will be mediocre and the underlying characteristics that will prevail.
Over the years I have earned about a 95% success rate. Meaning my initial assessment turns out to be correct. You would think I would be elated with that number – but there is just something about that 5% that just plain saddens me.
I have banged my head against the wall trying to figure out why I care about that 5%. Why that damn 5% makes me so sad. And finally it hit me – it is because of the wasted potential!
It is seeing the extraordinary gift in someone go to waste.
Years ago while heading up a large financial publishing company, I hired a rising superstar. Because I recognized this early on, I spent a great deal of time mentoring her as well as introducing her to other people in the industry.
Our boss/employee relationship blossomed into a wonderful friendship and we began spending time together socially with our spouses and children.
When she was ready to move on, I encouraged her to do so. I even recommended her to an industry legend that was starting a new business.
On my recommendation he hired her and in the beginning she excelled.
But then she soon left that position to start her own little consulting company.
She quickly acquired clients using my name as bait.
Initially I did not have a problem with this until the “buzz” in the industry was that she is not always delivering assignments on time and is getting increasingly harder to deal with.
We hadn’t communicated since she went off on her own. Then, a few months ago, I received an e-mail from her.
She asked if we could have lunch so she could pick my brain regarding her consulting business. She admitted she was overwhelmed taking on too much work and did not know what to do about it. Because we both have busy schedules, we had to set the date for two weeks down the road.
Two days before our scheduled lunch, I e-mailed her to say I was looking forward to seeing her and to confirm the time and place.
I was shocked by her response. She had forgotten all about it. She said she was too busy, and asked if we could please meet the following day instead.
I couldn’t make it the following day. And I was understandably miffed, because I’d had to re-schedule several appointments to free up the day and time we’d originally set. As I tried to explain this to her, I felt sudden heartbreak. Here was someone whose ego was destroying her business.
Whether you are working in a corporate environment or on your own, you should always be building relationships. Relationships with your customers, your competitors, and certainly with your current and previous mentors.
The best and easiest way to do so is to:
Follow my simple business ABC’s for sucess:
A) Always put yourself on the same playing field: Never think you are more important than anyone else. Some people may be more famous – but we are all equally important. I pride myself on treating everyone I meet with mutual respect. It does not matter to me what someone’s job title is – when they do that job with dignity and urgency, they deserve my respect.
B) Be thankful: Wake up everyday with a sense of gratitude. I am so grateful for the people in my live. Yes my family is a given, but also the mentors I have had that helped me achieve my success. It does not matter if they were a mentor from 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago, if anyone of them called me and asked for anything I would jump through hoops of fire to make it happen.
C) Communicate carefully: This starts with not over committing. It is a common blunder when starting out in business to take on too many clients in fear that the clients may not be there next month or next year. But when you actually turn down business and only accept the amount of business that you can handle your business will grow.
Remember if you take people for granted… and start putting yourself ahead of them… you’ll be burning valuable bridges that you will be sure to need down the road.