Stir the Pot

Keeping talented people is crucial to the success of any operation. Obviously, there is more than one formula to retaining staff members who will help to move an institution forward. One needs to find the one that works best for you.

I did not consciously focus on this issue; I did, apparently, have a method that was useful. In talking to those with whom I worked, I found they commented on how I encouraged them to battle with each other--and with me.

Now fights among strong-willed people (no, no one ever came to blows) may not seem the best way to keep people together. It is.

If one has enough confidence in oneself to be challenged by those with whom one works, one will be able to get--and to retain--the people one needs to succeed. And, if those with whom one surrounds oneself are cut out of the same cloth, they will battle each other happily.

At my weekly staff meetings, I would invariably throw out ideas. Some were meant to stir the pot; others were thoughts to which I wanted--and needed--reactions.

My assistant often commented she felt some staffers were going to go into cardiac arrest when I advanced a particular idea. None did suffer a heart attack. Besides, with the advent of portable defibrillators, that matter was of less concern than it might have been in earlier years.

One needs the best possible people on one's team. Challenging those around you, and forcing them to challenge each other (and you), will increase the odds you will keep your staff intact.

So, stir the pot. Things will, at times, get hot. You will, however, like what you eventually serve up.