People, And People

If you have not figured this out yet, you’d better get on board and do it fast. If you have been known to treat your people poorly and get away with it, you are about to get a rude awakening, and I mean a really rude awakening.

It’s a new ball game out there. People have choices about whether or not they want to come to work for you, like we have not seen probably in our lifetimes.

There are not enough people to fill all the job openings we have. And the good people who are out there, the ones you would love to have come work for your company, are being very selective about who they tie their wagon to.

What bothers me is that there are still companies – in the twenty-first century, mind you – there are still companies who treat their employees very poorly.  

The rules are simple: if you treat your employees poorly, they are going to turn around and treat your customers as poorly if not worse. That has always been the case. 

Similarly, companies that treated and have always treated their employees well are always and I mean always very well-run successful companies.

Treating employees well has always been an option. Take this quote from David Ogilvy, one of the most successful advertising executives in the history of advertising. This is a letter he wrote to one of his largest clients sticking up for his employees…and this was written in the fifties!

“I’ve come to resign your business because your Executive Vice President is a s**t. He’s treating your people atrociously and he’s treating my people atrociously. I’m not going to allow this man to go on demoralizing the people of Ogilvy & Mather.”

And this is what leading industry leader Tom Peters had to say about treating people well in his amazing new book. Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism.

“Profound: (yes it merits the word “Profound.” I guess it’s also a “profound” comment to point out that so many smart people  don’t get it).

If you want to WOW the customer, first, you must WOW the people who WOW the customer.”

And now with the labor shortages we are experiencing and will continue to experience for the next few years we are going to have to up our game if we are serious about succeeding. And frankly it is a game that has needed upping for years now.

And no, it’s not just about Covid, it’s not just about some people getting extra money: all that might be the latest factor, but in reality, if you choose to remember we were having a hard time manning our shops even before Covid. Except back then we were blaming it on our favorite target “the millennials” (don’t you love it when over-the-hill sixty and seventy year olds start explaining how millennials think?) Nope, it was more about our work not being that rewarding. It was all about the rest of us being so unexcited about our work that we couldn’t make it seem exciting to young people coming into our industry.

Be honest: how many of you have a full blown orientation package in your company where you talk about our industry from its rich history of building products that have changed the world?

Be honest: how many of us have taken the time when hiring someone in plating or an etcher to explain that this job could be the first step  towards a rich and rewarding career?

It’s pretty much an  industry joke that nobody in our business ever said when we were kids, “When I grow up, I want to build printed circuit boards.”  And that attitude has pretty much stuck with us decades later. And that’s a damn shame.

This is a great industry. We are building game changing products, products that to quote Steve Jobs, “are putting a dent in the universe.”

If we got our act together, If we started properly developing our story of who we are and that we are doing some very important work we could have a much more successful time of it bringing new, younger and talented people into our profession.

Remember when we hire someone, we are not giving them a job, we are giving them a future. We have to show them they are entering an exciting career, one that we ourselves are excited about showing them.

And then we have to treat both new and current employees with the kind of loyalty and respect that we want them to give to our customers, not to mention and this is important…to one another.

Here once again from Tom Peters’ new book are some examples of how to put people first:


  • Give people enriching and rewarding  lives
  • Help them to become more than they have ever been before, more than they ever dreamed of being
  • Get people to give a s**t. People who care do great work. Caring is the most important aspect of doing a great job.
  • Build a culture in which individuals have the means to truly thrive, to succeed. To be happy in their work, to be fulfilled and growing.
  • Employees are our first customers, our most important customers.


I have developed a complete, new employee training program. Contact me if you’re interested in hiring and keeping great people.

In the meantime, as we enter 2022 make sure that you remember that one thing. Your employees are going to treat your customers exactly how you treat them. It’s only common sense.