GateHouse president: Interview many, hire the best, repeat

There is more to driving revenue growth than brainstorming strategies for the future and finding the right business model. Your staff will make or break your bottom line, and your company’s future, Kirk Davis, president and chief operating officer of GateHouse Media, Inc., told the Blinder Group and Suburban Newspapers of America’s Revenue Leadership Summit in Chicago today.

Each company has three types of employees: the saints, the sinners and the save-ables. The saints make up 10 to 15 percent, and management must connect with them and protect them. These people represent the best and brightest, and will be key to meeting goals, he said.

The sinners are not going to get what you’re trying to do, they won’t help you or support the company, and you must have a plan in place to address these people, and get rid of them.

The save-ables represent the majority, and just aren’t sure yet, he explained. “In the advertising world, most of these people were good at their jobs when they were asked to service a lot of businesses. They always got by. But now it’s so performance-driven, and they need to learn new skills. They are the complacency in our industry.”

A key management strategy in bringing in the best, and pushing out the worst is to always be open to great people, even when there are no openings, Davis said.

“I interview five people every week, even when I don’t need them. You get inspired by people, and figure out how to get them in the company. You’ll address poor performance in your company when you have great people you want to get in,” he said.

Retaining top, highly educated people is another matter, and must be done through keeping them educated. At the same time, ask staff to take on sustainable tasks, and support them as they go. Don’t “launch ’em and leave ’em,” he said.

At GateHouse, more focus is being put on performance in the sales organisation. As changes are made and management is able to give staff more tools to reach their potentials, the staff in turn will be required to be increasingly accountable.

GateHouse owns 494 community publications and more than 250 related websites, as well as seven yellow page directories. The company reaches an audience of about 10 million each week.

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