Sunday, May 27, 2007

"99% of your problems come from 10% of your people"

Smilin' Clive Beddoe, founder and chair of WestJet, made an odd choice in his speech Thursday night to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, which had just presented him with a lifetime achievement award (see previous post).

As you might expect, Beddoe credited WestJet’s success to the hard work of its “six thousand passionate employees.” He urged the entrepreneurs in the audience to “create passion in your people. Give them a reason to care, and they will have a commitment to you that's unbelievable. … The processes you adopt for bringing these people into your world will make you successful.”

But then he went on to point out that you have to weed your garden before it can bloom.

99% of your problems will come from 10% of your people,” he said. “Just remember that. What you do about that is up to you. It’s not too difficult to figure out.”

Beddoe then said you can't fire people too soon. If they're in the wrong job or have the wrong attitude, you have to unload them or give them something different to do.

Don't let them drag you down,” he said. “Give them an opportunity to succeed somewhere else. Because in their current position, they're set up to fail.”

Good advice? Absolutely, and it’s a point I’ve made many times in my own presentations to entrepreneurs.

But appropriate after-dinner speaking fodder for a feel-good awards evening? I thought Beddoe focused unduly on the negative. Maybe he'd just had a bad day.
What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You don't build an airline from scratch without zigging while others are zagging. A little fiber never hurt an entrepreneur and we are living in an overly sensitive world now.

For what its worth, I am sure Robert Milton would have given a cream puff speech but he's not exactly the person I would be taking business advice from.