Every cowboy and his horse know you move down the trail each day by pickin’ ‘em up and puttin’ ‘em down.
The underlying fundamental of progress is movement, even if it’s on the wrong path. If you find yourself in the same place as where you started after an hour of effort, it’s time to remind yourself that you’re stuck nowhere only because you’ve chosen not to travel somewhere.
Every cowboy and his horse also know starting to travel is as simple as picking up a foot and putting it down-the other feet know what to do next.
If you are like many professional horsemen, finding the right people to help you in your business is one of your biggest challenges. That’s partly because candidates with horse experience are limited, the rate of pay in the equine industry is low in comparison to other industries and much of the work is unsupervised requiring employees with good work habits.
A resume, job application and a short interview will you tell you only part of the story about an employee candidate.
You know what I mean if you’ve ever had your promising new hire show up for work on Monday morning and you find out that not only did the name on the job application and the face from the interview show up, a whole person came along as well with a life history and assorted baggage.
There are many books and articles written every year on the subject of hiring. Read one, or skim several to expand your skills. But, like most things, experience is the best teacher on the practice of hiring good people.
Experience has taught me that the following points are important to consider in your interview process. They’re in random order and may seem blatantly obvious. But, like a mare with her ears pinned flat on her neck, the obvious is still worthy of your attention.
- Does the applicant show up early, on time, or late for the interview? Late arrivals are often backed by good excuses: “heavy traffic, difficulty finding the place, drop children off, etc.” These are the same excuses you’ll probably hear every day from the applicant once hired. If you expect punctuality every day, lack of it at the interview is deal breaker.
- Is the applicant dressed in a way that is acceptable to you for your business image? If unconventional body piercings-offensive tattoos and sloppy general appearance don’t bother you or your customers, no need to worry. If they do, keep in mind you are probably seeing the best image of the candidate at the interview.
- Does the candidate have reliable transportation? You know what happens when a worker is a no-show. You either find a way to pick up the employee to get him or her to work, or you go through the day running on one less cylinder.
- Look for life in the eyes– good eye contact, enthusiasm and energy. And while the following is not absolute, it’s worthy of your careful observation. When someone is remembering details, their eyes move to the right (your right). When someone is making something up, their eyes move to the left. It’s usually opposite for left handers.
- Bad mouthing and negative comments– past employers, industry, relationships, family, excessive bad luck. If you hear too much of it in the candidate interview, you’ll be forever hearing it from the employee.
- How many days off, benefits, what’s the pay ? If too many questions like these come early in the interview, you know that Johnny is all about his Paycheck.
- Lack of enthusiasm for horses and or animals in general. Captain Obvious says this could be a problem.
- Messy car – no science or research backs this up, but I got in the habit of walking a candidate to his vehicle to have a peek at the car. Back seats littered with adult beverage cans and fast food wrappers, duct taped door handles and turn signal lenses and out of date inspection stickers tell part of a story.
- Poor listener-Even though you will only be doing twenty percent of the talking at an interview, the candidate should show signs of coherence and listening carefully to what you say. After all, carrying out your directions is a key job requirement.
- Lacking good manners-you’ll never be happy apologizing for your employee’s crude behavior and impolite habits. Even though it’s not you being rude, his reflection tarnishes your silver.
We both know there is no perfect employee. But, as a profitable business owner, screening for bad habits and attitudes makes good sense. Good attitude trumps work experience.
People with good attitudes, but weak on work experience and skills can always be trained for business. People with bad attitudes, but strong on work experience and skills are often train wrecks for business.
I’ve been thinking about hanging a No Jake Brake sign on my office door and in the barn when I’m not in the mood to hear unnecessary whining and complaining.
You probably have seen “NO JAKE BRAKE” road signs as you descend a steep hill into a small, peaceful community.
A Jake Brake is a compression release device for diesel engines. They use the engine to slow the vehicle down and give a tractor-trailer’s brakes help controlling 80,000 lbs. of projectile. Good idea.
Bad idea. The noise of the compression release sounds like a deep throated machine gun and has an effect like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard.
I occasionally have some visitors who are fond of unsolicited compression release on my ears in a similar fashion to a Jake. I bet you do, too.
Perhaps we should invoke the “No Jake Brakes” rule in the workplace.
You’ll have an easier time with selling your boarding, lesson and training services when you get your mindset focused on selling as an investment and not a cost. There is much more than price to making a sale and you’ll be better at selling when you stop differentiating by price only.
For example, your fees charged for a riding lesson are not a cost to a student like an electric bill, they are an investment in the student’s ongoing enjoyment of riding with an improved set of skills. Without improved skills, pleasure from riding or competing is greatly reduced and may even disappear. People ride for the fun of it and the feeling of self satisfaction as they develop expertise.
Riding lessons are an investment in the student’s present and future that provide ongoing value and compounded value over time. You can’t unlearn valuable knowledge and experience and that’s what makes a riding lesson an investment and not a cost.
It’s a safe bet your teachers and mentors drilled you on the importance of planning. Plan ahead was their mantra. Good advice included: outline your research paper before you start, college course planning, career planning, family planning, business planning, retirement planning. Planning was offered as the ultimate solution for problem avoidance in your business and personal lives.
But, all of your plans are nothing more than rehearsal exercises for spontaneity, the only guaranteed plan you use every day. Consider any day when these events could happen: an unexpected horse buyer prospect shows up with cash hanging out of her pockets or your best lesson horse is showing colic symptoms or four horses are trotting down the road due to that loose fence rail.
It’s your ability to react like an improv performer and carry the show with what you always have: experience and your wits. There is no doubt sticking to a good plan is admirable, but when the assumptions you originally made while planning change, you need to pivot and make the best of it.
Had General George Custer been able to pivot and scrap his plan, he would have been able to write his memoirs.
David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” has a time saver he calls the two minute rule. It’s been helpful to me for taking care of some items immediately when they appear.
The rule is simple. If you can take care of something in less than two minutes, like an email response or leaving a quick message on a voice mail, then do it now.It will take more time to file and retrieve the task and respond later than to take care of it now.
And if the item is not important enough to be done at all, then throw it out now! It’s like pretending you’re going to eat leftover steamed broccoli tomorrow and taking the time today to wrap it and put it in the refrigerator so you can throw it out untouched 5 days later.
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The first step in improving your business profitability is to decide on an exact amount for your net profit for the next 12 months. A statement like, “My goal is to improve my business profit in the next twelve months” is as shallow as a political campaign promise. It sounds good, but it really means nothing.
Napoleon Hill wrote long ago in “Think and Grow Rich”, “Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.”
It’s like saying, “I want to lose weight.” The part of the brain that gets things done needs specifics like how much weight, by when and a plan to make it happen. General statements are just background noise to the brain until you get specific with your expectations.
Perhaps it doesn’t always seem that way, but your work is very important and so is your attitude toward it. There is an old story about attitudes toward work held by three bricklayers. When asked by a child what they were doing, the three responded:
The first said,“Laying brick.”
The second said, “Making $27.00 an hour.”
The third said, “Me? I am building the world’s greatest cathedral!”
Fast forward ten years. The first two bricklayers are still laying brick as the employees of the third’s international construction company.