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Staff development starts with hiring the right people

The staff of Meridian’s Access Heating & Air.
The staff of Meridian’s Access Heating & Air. Provided by the Better Business Bureau

This month, we got to do one of my favorite things at the Better Business Bureau: We awarded the Business of the Year Torch Award for Ethics.

Applicants submit a thorough evaluation of their business and practices, and entries are judged by business leaders throughout Idaho. The state’s 2016 recipient is Access Heating & Air, based in Meridian.

In reading Access’s application, one thing stood out: team development. I don’t mean just offering training to employees and promoting from within, though Access does that. I mean taking the time to develop the business as a team, which in turn develops the individual.

Recently, owner Keith Lithander closed the business for a day. All employees still reported for work. They took time to revisit their values and define what each meant for the team and the business as a whole.

“We got our team together and said, ‘Who are we? What are we about? What makes us click? What makes us aspire to be better?’ ” Lithander said.

He said the team strives to live up to core values of world-class service, unity, teamwork, humility and pure motives. However, while he takes time to instill those values in employees, he says that’s not enough.

For Lithander, building great people starts with hiring the right people. In their Torch Award Application, Lithander and his colleague, Shareen Nettles, wrote that they strive to hire individuals they are so confident in and comfortable with that they would be willing to send them to grandma’s house.

“Hire based on character, train from within, build confidence in them,” Lithander says. “Inspire trust in people, and then unleash their talent and get out of their way. Let them flourish, they’ll take it to the next level.”

That struck me. Inspire trust in people. At BBB, our tagline is “Start with Trust.” Give your team reason to trust you, and since you took the time to hire the right people, trust them. Let them develop, and you’ll see your business grow right alongside.

Dale Dixon is chief innovation officer for Better Business Bureau Northwest. 342-4649, dale.dixon@thebbb.org. This column appears in the Sept. 21-Oct. 18, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on human resources and workforce development. Click here for the e-edition (subscription required).

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