Going the Distance

In my previous post, I used the movie Field of Dreams to illustrate how if we build the right infrastructure in our businesses, the best candidates will come to us.

But that’s only the start. If you recall in the movie, the main character had to not just build the field but do a little bit of recruiting on his own. He started his journey across the country to find Terence Mann. But the final quote from the field, “go the distance,” was really about Ray fixing his relationship with his long-deceased father.

For us, going the distance is about how to build the relationships with our people once we hire them, once we’ve built the infrastructure and employment brand we believe will drive results. Going the distance is about assembling the right team, rewarding them for their hard work, and maintaining the culture that will deliver on those results.

Part of going the distance is how we lead the team we’ve assembled. Do we adapt our leadership style to what the team needs at a given point in time? Do our rewards systems reward the behaviors that are driving business results? All of this comes back to how we implement our human resources strategic plan.

Just like our business needs an overall strategic plan, we must have a strategic plan for how we will develop and manage our HR function. Absent that, this beautiful field of dreams we’ve built will never have the right players on the field.

This plan should answer questions like: How do we develop our people’s careers to meet their needs? How do we align our people’s career needs with our business needs? How do we develop a succession plan based on those two things that will ensure we have a constant pool of talent being developed to meet the future challenges our business will face? How do we allow our people to form teams and solve problems on their own without leadership micromanaging the situation?

A lot of this comes back to the culture we want to build. Culture is nothing more than the series of norms that develop inside our organization. If we’re not careful with this beautiful field, the norms that will develop will start to sprout up like weeds. Our ability to go the distance comes down to our ability to be watchful caretakers over the type of culture that’s going to attract and retain the best and brightest as it helps us to achieve our business results.

In my book HR Strategy: Driving Bottom Line Results Through Your People I provide the road map for making these things happen. It’s not quite a how-to guide because how-to guides are very cookie cutter in approach. Businesses are living organisms and therefore cannot be pigeonholed into a set of processes that will work across the board. What it will help you do is to find your own way to go the distance.

At the end of the movie, Terence Mann tells Ray he had a vision that people will come see his ball park, see these old time players playing, and pay him for the experience.

At the end of the movie as the camera pans out you see cars stretched out for miles working their way to his field. This is a defining moment because Ray is on the verge of bankruptcy and losing his entire farm. The analogy here is quite simple – we can build the best business we think we can, but if we don’t go the distance and attract the right people who will help us get to the end result which is high quality products and services, intimate customer relationships, streamlined and efficient processes, we will never be able to realize our business’s full potential.

If you want support in going the distance with your business, click here to order a copy of my book, HR Strategy: Driving Bottom Line Results Through Your People.