What Bank of America Taught Me: Find and Keep the Best People to Grow Your Business

By Paul Bieber

The other day I saw an article that said Bank of America (B of A) was changing its starting salary for every employee of the bank—yes, every single one—to a minimum of $20 per hour. Loosely stated, their rationale was that they need to hire the best employees in the marketplace to serve their customers. This is country-wide and might be higher in the
high-wage areas of the U.S.

Their reasoning is so beautiful. B of A said they want the best employees to help their valuable customers. So simple. They have investments in buildings and software, but the most important part of their business is the people. This isn’t just the tellers who see customers. This is the floor sweepers and the secretaries that customers never see. It’s everyone.

INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE

Okay, what does that mean for us in the glass industry? It should be a wake-up call that you need the best people in your company. The best people will draw in more business and will make fewer mistakes. You will have happier customers who will tell their friends about your great service.

Can you afford this? Let’s find out. Make a list of each employee including their current wage, job title and their supervisor. Looking back at the past year, place a check mark by each employee when you had a problem, when any customer had a complaint, when a supervisor had to reprimand an employee, etc. You get it; every problem of any sort gets a check mark.

Next, reread their last employee review. Is the employee following your recommendations for his or her position? Give a check mark each time guidelines were not followed nor targets met.

Lastly, rate each employee on a scale from one to five, with five being the best and one being out-the-door. It will be painfully obvious which employees need to leave.

MAKE A PLAN

So how do you do this? Layout a planned increase for those making less than $20/hour. Each January add $1 for each person until they are at $20; or make it $2. This gives your employees something to look forward to and doesn’t hit all at once.

What about your top people who make more than $20? Give them comparable raises, as well. Let them know they are the solid base of your company.

The next step is to encourage those on your staff to step up to the next level in productivity. Give each person 90 days to improve. Show them the areas where they need to improve and work to help them make their jobs better. If they cannot or will not, it’s time to let them go. You’ll have a better chance of hiring a top-notch replacement.

Let the local media know what you’re doing to improve the customer experience with your company; any outlet will be glad to run a story of a local company doing this. Call the TV stations, as well. Don’t be surprised when they come to your shop to do an in-person interview. You’ll get many people coming to you to leave a resume or fill out an application. When you’ve had a help wanted ad in the past, you might have received just a few resumes or phone calls. Now you will be swamped with people wishing to join your company. You get what you pay for, whether you’re shopping at Walmart or hiring people. You set the qualities of the person by setting the pay scale in advance.

Remember, you’re investing in your people and that will give you the greatest return you can get.

And one other last thought … I wish you, your family at home and your family at work a healthy and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.

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