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What Makes a "Best Boss"

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2008 | 9:25 PM ET

By Brian Scudamore

What makes a Best Boss?

It’s quite simple, not easy, but simple. You have to recruit ‘best employees’. At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we’ve got a philosophy that we stand behind – “It’s all about people.” First we find the

‘right’ people, and then we treat them right.

I think most leaders who are not ‘best bosses’ make compromises. We’ve all done it – been in a situation where we are having trouble finding employees or we’re just too plain busy to do it right – and then we comprise on the quality of people we bring into our organization.

There was a day in 1994 where I first discovered that a company is really only as good as it’s people. At that time I had the wrong people. I had 11 employees – 9 were awful and the other 2 were becoming awful through the influence of the other 9. I made a tough call. I brought all 11 people into a room at the same time and told them, “:This is not working.” I let them all go. It was my fault, and I told them that. I hadn’t put in the time to find the right people – and I wasn’t spending enough time with them to help make them great. That day I committed to start again, fresh, determined to NEVER compromise on the quality of people I brought into 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I think we’ve done an excellent job since then. If we can’t find the right person, even if we desperately need someone to fill a position, we wait. We hired a Director of our Call Center last year… and that particular hire took us nearly 18 months. It was painful being without the leadership we needed there for 18 months, but today we absolutely have the right person now!

If I had to share our formula for success in being a Best Boss, I’d narrow it down to 3 things.

1) Find the right people!: Best Bosses have ‘best employees’. In order to lead, you need followers, and in business they had better be the right people or you’re destined to fail.

2) Hire according to your vision!: If prospective employees aren’t excited about your vision, what we call at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, ‘Our Painted Picture’, then you’ve got the wrong people. Our Painted Picture is a great litmus test for recruiting to ensure we’re about to bring on the right person.

3) Engage your people!: Once you have the right people, get and keep them engaged. Ask them lots of questions, then sit back and listen. Engaged employees are far more productive and they’re happier people too. I believe that leaders have a social obligation to ensure that their people are happy. People spend so much time at work that I think we owe them to ensure that they enjoy being there.

- Brian