Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Process or People?

This is an interesting question for business owners and one that usually goes unanswered and remains open-ended. In other words, we business owners tend to do both half-assed by not committing ourselves to either fully. We all know that without good people, our businesses are doomed. But how many times have we hired, not just a good, but a great employee, only to watch them flounder in our organization? People need and want direction and leadership. Even the best of people need some structure in order to flourish.

Years ago, I sat down with a very successful entrepreneur who had built several businesses and franchised them throughout the east coast. I knew he was very busy so I wanted to be very specific when “picking his brain”. My main question was, “Where do you spend the majority of your time?” His response was that he spends about half of his time creating and implementing solid business systems and the other half finding good people and nurturing them to thrive in those systems.

Process and people. I have always considered myself a bit of a process flow chart geek. We have used this exercise often with our clients as we help them create and streamline their business systems for maximum productivity and efficiency. Flow charting an existing process can be enlightening to most managers. When people go through the exercise, they are often stunned at the wasted steps and the simple additions or deletions that can have a major impact on their process and people.

However, the flow chart is only half the exercise and where most business owners quit. They neglect to actually share, implement and hold people accountable to follow these newly designed process. A lot of good employees get frustrated and throw up their hands at this point. “This place is so disorganized”. “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”. Sound familiar?

My philosophy has always been that if you create solid business systems and reenforce them, then the people you hire don’t need to be Harvard Business School grads, they just need to be good, relatively-intelligent people that you like and fit your company culture. It’s called “Building a Team”.

So, I believe that Process comes before People, and good Process helps you retain good People. If you’re not a process-oriented person, then hire someone that can help you do it. The longer you wait to implement good, solid business practices, the more often you will find yourself playing “employee roulette”.

Photo by Adi Coco on Unsplash