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In both of the businesses that I ran I used to ask prospective employees to key questions:

(1) What are your professional goals?

(2) What are your personal goals?

It was my view that if my company couldn’t help them to achieve both personal and professional objectives then we probably weren’t the right fit.

Last week over lunch with the John Espley, chair of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, we were talking about various matters related to management and entrepreneurship. It reminded me of this practice and of a great memory.

My last company was a computer services firm. It was a brutal start-up and took eighteen months to turn our first profit. While the company was profitable every month thereafter it never really made enough money to justify the risk I took in starting it.

Through the fog of these start-up challenges I’d say that the most rewarding day was when one of my key employees, now a successful founder of his own company (www.multitrends.com), notified me that he was at a Chrysler dealership signing papers to purchase his wife a new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Another key team member had a professional goal. That was to build a full time motivational speaking business. So we struck an arrangement whereby as long as he achieved his targets with my company he could take time off as necessary to build his speaking practice.

He is now a very successful international speaker on matters relating to sales and goal setting. While other companies might have been concerned about a senior employee moonlighting, I was firmly of the view that this was an opportunity to help this person achieve a professional goal.

These days were even more rewarding that the day I sold my company! This is because my little company helped these people achieve their goals. If it could keep doing this then we’d have happy employees moving forward in life in ways important to them.

You can read John Espley’s blog post on this topic at his Accent Inns blog here: http://www.accentinns.com/blog/2012/good-employer/#more-2129

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