A 2,500-Year-Old Secret for Hiring & Retaining Good Employees

Recruiting and hiring salespeople is a pain in the butt. Recruiting and hiring any kind of employee is a hassle. It’s time consuming and disruptive. It distracts people from the everyday tasks of running a business. With unemployment at near record lows, it’s even harder to find good employees. When a key employee leaves, your initial reaction is one of frustration. You’ve got too much to do, you don’t need the hassle, why now/ and other, maybe not so polite thoughts.

Managing a salesforce means you are already trying to cram 100 hours of work into 40. When you lose a salesperson, and it doesn’t matter if that person left for greener pastures or you pushed him out, your workload increases. Now you must find a way to take care of an extra sales territory and handle your customers, so you don’t lose their loyalty and business.

Now you have two challenges. First, you must fill the gap as quickly as possible. Develop a recruiting campaign to find the right fit for your position. Expect this will take longer than you want but be patient. Don’t grab the first available candidate. Remember, a warm body is a recipe for disaster.

The second challenge is doing all you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again … having a process in place to ensure employee retention. Surprisingly, the best advice on this comes from a guy who wrote children’s stories over 2,500 years ago. His name was Aesop. His fables are timeless and loaded with common sense. The following can apply to employee retention, customer retention or just maintaining friends and family.

The Goatherd & the Wild Goats

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One cold stormy day a Goatherd drove his Goats for shelter into a cave, where a number of Wild Goats had also found their way. The Shepherd wanted to make the Wild Goats part of his flock; so he fed them well. But to his own flock, he gave only just enough food to keep them alive. When the weather cleared, and the Shepherd led the Goats out to feed, the Wild Goats scampered off to the hills.

"Is that the thanks I get for feeding you and treating you so well?" complained the Shepherd.

"Do not expect us to join your flock," replied one of the Wild Goats. "We know how you would treat us later on, if some strangers should come as we did."

“It is unwise to treat old friends badly for the sake of new ones.”
Industrial psychologists have long known people don’t leave their jobs for just money.
There are many reasons, but the most common have to do with a feeling of belonging … a feeling of being valued and respected. 

Aesop wrote about this in his fable about the wild goats.

Look, you can’t compete on money and benefits alone. No matter how good your package is, there will always be someone who ups the ante. What you can do is treat your employees with respect. Nurture them and provide for them as best you can. You may still have turnover, you may lose employees here and there, but it won’t be a revolving door type of crisis. One final piece of advice to add to Aesop’s … you can’t fake this stuff. Be real in your desire to take care of your people.

Oliver Connolly