Selim Bassoul: How to Spot Great Employees



Tom Gardner: At the Motley Fool, we’ve long been proponents of conscious capitalism. The idea of really trying to make sure that everyone that encounters your organization benefits from their relationship with your company. And that means taking a stakeholder orientation, not just being focused on shareholder outcomes as was presented by Milton Friedman many years ago, making that the highest priority.

So at Middleby, and in your orientation, your worldview, Selim, how do you think about the stakeholders, the prioritization of stakeholders at your company?

Selim Bassoul: Well let’s define who the stakeholders are? You’re talking about employees, you’re talking about customers, you’re talking about shareholders, you’re talking about suppliers. In my case, the number one stakeholder of our company are our employees.

So I spent a lot of time on communicating to our employees. They are our driving force. Without the employees, you have no innovation without the employees, you have no brand ambassadors. Without the employees, you don’t have quality, you don’t have growth.

So in that case, we look very closely of how we hire the employees and who we retain. We tend to let go four types of employees we don’t like, the whiners. They are always whining, one day about the weather, one day about the premises of the company, one day they didn’t get up from bed correctly. They are always whining.

The snipers. They are always … they cannot do their job because the other department didn’t do whatever they’re supposed to do, or they don’t have the right tools in their hands.

The passive aggressive, whom you count on to get the job done and they always tell you yes, and then a month later you found out they didn’t do anything. And the most concerning are the contaminators. They tend to contaminate the environment, and all those fours do not stay in our company.

Tom Gardner: And who would be the ideal employee? We’ve got those four that we want to avoid. What’s the optimal employee?

Selim Bassoul: The high priest and the young lions. High priest are people who are trusted, they understand the culture, and the purpose, and they are the one that are ambassadors to spreading that culture around the organization. They are usually people who’ve stayed with you for a long time. They believe in you. They believe in change, and the other people internally that communicate and mentor other people to be changed agent.

The young lions are people who are so aggressive, ambitious. They are the one that’s going to go take the hill for you, they are your SWAT teams. And the combination of young priest and young lions. High priest, young lions are the one we love.

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