The Power of People Skills


  • The Power of People Skills

    Posted by James Flawith on December 16, 2018 at 7:23 am

    I’m going to jump The Power of People Skills to the front of the line of the books I’m currently obsessed with and HIGHLY recommend.

    Most of my problems have come from employees. Fast hiring and slow firing (sloooooooow firing) lead me down the road to mediocrity. I woke up a while ago, looked around and realized I was surrounded by a bunch of “tree guys.” Running a tree service business you might think of this as a good thing. It is not. I was recording HUNDREDS of minutes late and multiple no-shows (failing to show up to work without any notice or communication AT ALL) every month. I was hearing (and in denial about) employees with drug and alcohol issues. Ugh. This is rampant in the tree service industry and THE reason I started my company in the first place – because I didn’t have these problems and these people would be my “competition” (and so there was no competition for me in this industry).

    Over the last year in our O&P cohort I’ve struggled to come to terms with this reality. As I learned and talked and read I realized that my personnel problem was not “a problem with kids/people these days” this is my own damn fault. I hired quick for effectiveness without regard for personal values. I had a vague idea about my own company’s values (I knew I didn’t want to be a TREE GUY) but had nothing written down to match people up with.

    What I’m doing to get through this thing, to create the company I envisioned when I started out, working with killer employees, has been a heck of a process. And The Power of People Skills feels like the final piece to the puzzle. My work isn’t close to done yet but I feel I’ve got the tools to actually run the business (instead of the business running me).

    The Power of People Skills helped:

    • Show me why the values statement I spent hours creating was useless
    • Outline why a simple and memorable set of 3 company values is so important
    • Explain the error in hiring for effectiveness instead of right attitudes
    • Give me an objective system for channeling my subjective assessment of employees
    • Provide the tools and justification for promoting people up or moving people out based on what matters most to my company


    The book is super easy to read, formatted very well and has some seriously actionable and immediately impactful ideas. Get rid of 90% of your HR problems? Hell. Ya.

    Sasha Prior replied 5 years, 2 months ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • James Flawith

    December 16, 2018 at 8:34 am

    I wrote this in my Business Journal but thought it would be valuable here as a “how to” to follow after reading The Power of People Skills (POPS). And you should read POPS. After I did, something “clicked” for me with regard to employee hiring and management. I’ve been pounding on my company values hard since starting O&P in Feb/March 2018. If you asked me to recite the values I made up, I would get maybe 2 or 3. This is not good. Not if you want your employees to remember them and if you want to actually I use them for something.

    Here’s what my values looked like prior to my POPS revision. Skip to the *** if you get bored:

    Precision Core Values

    “Performance. Professional. Precision.”
    Success at Precision is being:

    We love our work because we prevent kids from getting electrocuted and we help people by keeping their power on.
    We care because lives depend on the quality of our work.
    We love challenging ourselves physically and mentally.
    We always have fun and never get bored.

    We are Industrial Athletes, true professionals.
    We are dedicated to leveraging technology to do more work with less effort.
    The best in the world push themselves to get better every day. We want to be the best, so we push ourselves to get better every single day.
    We have nothing to prove, but everything to prove.

    I’m your left leg. You’re my right leg. We depend on each other to win.
    The closer we work together, the more freedom we have to reach our true potential.
    One team. One dream. Own the work where we live.

    We take ownership of everything that happens in our lives.
    We own our reality. We control our destiny.
    At Precision Tree, we are all self-employed. We all work for ourselves.

    We do not need managers, we are all disciplined enough to manage ourselves.
    We set the bar for professionalism in our industry, holding ourselves to the highest standards.
    We will do the things others do not want to do.
    Discipline = Freedom

    We appreciate the opportunities life provides us.
    We are courteous and show respect for ourselves and our customers.
    We are thankful for our work and always strive to do the best job possible.

    ***Looks great, right? Just like something you could print off and hang in your office with some nice graphics, eh? And how many people would ever actually read it? Did you even read it? Honest! Right, point proven. Now, our revised values post POPS:

    Precision Core Values

    GROw with Precision

    Give a shit. About the company. About our team. About yourself. Do you give a shit?

    Ready. Show up to work ready for work. Leave work ready for work. Are you ready?

    Own it. Own up to mistakes and problems by taking responsibility for them. Do you own it?

    Or GO from Precision

    Sorry for the language, but daaaaaamn! Did that wake you up? How many ways can you measure that??? Can’t remember the values, I bet you’ll remember that you either GROw with Precision or you GO from Precision, right? What if you’re late for work? Well, I guess you don’t give a shit, do you? Forget your lunch? I guess you weren’t ready, eh? Did you go home without doing your Mandatory End of Day Checklist? GOD HELP YOU.

    Right about now you’re probably thinking, “this is frigging amazeballs but what do you do with it?” Well, POPS tells you. You use your values to assess your employees and plot them on what’s called a STAR CHART. This chart uses 2 axes (“Right Attitudes” vertically, “Effectiveness” horizontally) to determine she is a “star” (or “potential star”) OR if she’s a “wrong fit”/”productive-but-difficult” giving you and your employee a super valuable REALITY CHECK on where she’s at. Hint: you want a company full of STARS. Here’s a GSheet link to a template I made for a Star Chart.

    I found this axis thing a crazy coincidence since I was already graphing values vs technical skills when looking at new hires. If you get down to it “Values” and “Right Attitudes” as well as “Technicals Skills” and “Effectiveness” are really the same. Fascinating.

    I’ve already shopped the Star Chart and Coach and Connect Session to my employees as a replacement to our monthly worker assessments and they were stoked. Here’s a link to a Google Doc to what the POPS calls a “Coach and Connect Session” that I made based on the POPS. It’s interesting to note that the Coach and Connect format also incorporates some The Coaching Habit-type open-ended questions and the Star Chart to give your employees a reality check (aside: The Coaching Habit is a super-wicked book and you should read it).

    What does all this mean? Well, I think of the simplified values as a sounding board to measure decisions against. By continually reviewing and comparing decisions and actions from the field to the values the company is based on, you’ll be teaching and training your people to act in the best interests of the company without actually having to tell them what to do. Kind of like passing along your Commander’s Intent. You’ll also be able to detect when your new hire is turning out to be a “tree guy” before it bites you in the ass, and give you the tools to help them improve (GROW) or leave (GO) with plenty of fair warning and minimal cost to the company.

    Ok, the short version of both of these posts is: you need to read The Power of People Skills. Just do it.

  • Sasha Prior

    February 27, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    Great post! I just ordered this book and read the first chapter. Seems easy to read and looking forward to finishing it!


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