Richard Sears on hiring & motivation

It’s the people you hire who make your success, said Sears, Roebuck & Co. founder Richard W. Sears. Here are some thoughts from an article he wrote in 1910:
  • Hire carefully and at the right time, then give your hires a free hand within well-defined limits. “Many a hundred-dollar man remains a fifteen-dollar subordinate,” he wrote, “because he is not given any latitude and is not allowed to develop.”
  • Pick inexperienced people at low salaries, and train them instead of transplanting people from other industries and putting them in charge of company veterans.
  • Let them make mistakes. Taking the initiative and learning from flubs is the only way for people to gain experience. And it’s expensive only in the beginning. Said Sears: “No man can learn to be a ‘crack shot’ unless he wastes some ammunition.”
  • Count results more than methods.
  • Offer raises and promotions to people without asking. “It pays us as a matter of business,” Sears noted.
  • Offer only raises and promotions, not bonuses, presents or rewards. A bonus should be considered an insult, Sears said, because it implies that people aren’t doing their best all the time.