Great Leaders Hire The Right People

Another update from the Jungle….

application-1915347_1920Finding the “right” employee is one of the most difficult tasks for any company. There will always be job applicants with the skills and expertise required for the job. But will the new hire fit in well with the existing team? A technically skilled person is so much dross if she or he has a toxic personality that destroys team morale.

On the other hand, the person with the perfect technical skills may not fit your company’s culture. What if the company preaches one set of values but practices another? Ambivalent messages from senior management are even more detrimental than one employee’s toxic personality.

Here’s how one leader solved these problems.

pic3In World War II, U-boat captain Peter “Ali” Cremer was concerned about how new crew members would fit in with his existing crew. U-boats were claustrophobically tiny. There was no privacy and no room to separate crewmen if a dispute arose. Meanwhile, U-boats took weeks-long patrols looking for Allied convoys and risking enemy attacks.

Bravery and technical skills were useless if a crewman was not willing or able to be a team player. Cremer knew that he needed men who were used to working as part of a team. So when Cremer looked at applicants for a place on his boat, he looked for men who had played team sports. He knew that men who played team sports were used to functioning as part of a group. That made it easier for them to work in the close quarters of a U-boat.

pic4At the same time, Cremer was consistent in his approach to the job (i.e., his corporate culture). Every crew member was treated with respect and discipline was enforced the same for everyone. No unnecessary risks were taken with the boat or the crew. Across the fleet, every U-boater knew that Cremer always brought his crew back alive. That was important since only 10% of U-boaters survived the war.

Cremer’s criteria worked. He’s the only U-boat captain that operated in the Atlantic Ocean for the entire war. His crew losses were minimal. By the way, Cremer had a fascinating family background. His mother was English, his father was German, and one set of grandparents was from Alsace-Lorraine.

pic5For more information about Peter Cremer, check out his memoirs U-Boat Commander (1984). For an example of the U-boat service, see the movie “Das Boot”, based on Lothar-Gunther Buchheim’s book of the same name. If you would like to tour a U-boot, visit Chicago’s Museum of Science + Industry.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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December 7th

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-14As the holiday season kicks in, Anne isn’t feeling very happy. In fact, she’s depressed.  She’s struggling to pay her bills after a couple of unexpected expenses, including a burst water pipe in her basement.

The water pipe burst a couple of days before Thanksgiving when Anne had a house full of family, in town for the big day.  Paying for the repairs put a severe dent in her rainy day fund just when her mothunnamed-11er was nagging her about taking a trip to Hawaii.

Anne’s mom wants to make a pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to her uncle who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Anne’s mom grew up listening to tales of her uncle’s life and looking at the few remaining family photos of him. She’s always thought of him as the handsomest and bravest man in her life, even though she never met him.

unnamed-13Anne doesn’t want to think about military sacrifices right now. Her oldest son is on active duty and she learned last week that he is being deployed to Iraq.  Anne always knew this day would come but it’s still a shock.

Anne knows she’s not the first, or the only, mother distraught about watching a child go off to war.  As she sits at her desk today, she thinks about how excited her son is to finally be through with training. He’s ready to take on his first assignment and accepts the risks of going into a war zone.

Anne tries to cheer herself up by thinking about her son surviving his tour of duty.  Battlefield medicine has advanced exponentially in recent years, ensuring that more soldiers will survive their injuries.unnamed-15

Back in 1941, thousands of American military personnel died immediately in the attack and many died later from their injuries. But many thousands more lived to fight their way across the Pacific.  Most of the ships damaged at unnamed-7Pearl Harbor were also repaired and used for the remainder of the war.

As she sits pondering her son’s possible fate, medical advances, and life in general, she looks at her desk calendar. It’s December 7th.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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