A Yarn About People and Competitive Advantage

The BusinessPundit takes a trip down memory lane. (Imagine this in the voice of Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man. Or Abe Simpson.)

My first job was at a hamburg joint. When my performance review came up my manager told me that a raise of 10 cents per hour was normal and then he asked how much I thought I deserved. I said ten cents. He asked why. I told him [that I didn't deserve anything special since] he could find anyone to flip burgers and mop the floor.

He said true, but good employees are hard to find and they do more per hour, so they're worth more. He said that someone like me would have plenty of other opportunities and he would have to raise my pay quickly to keep me. I got 40 cents or something; I don't remember exactly. And I learned a valuable lesson. Good people are worth more.

About 80% of the people I worked with in that place were worthless. But some were excellent. At peak times, we had 15 people in the restaurant, but give me the 7 or 8 best people on the team, and we could run at peak time with them alone. That's the point - the good employees didn't just flip burgers and stand back, they helped out in extra ways as needed.

Companies that pay bad wages and have high turnover often think they are keeping costs down. Maybe so, but they are keeping morale and productivity down at the same time.
Nuff said.

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