I repeatedly hear that employers “can’t find good people”. Well, this is a true story about some business owners who know what to look for.

I come from a small, formerly rural town. It’s getting less small and less rural every day. Recently, I heard a business success story that compelled me to write about it.

Two business owners were seeking ways to improve the operations and flow of their organization. With the right people as mid-level managers, they knew things would get better. They also strongly believed in giving existing employees development opportunities so they studied current employees and found someone, I’ll call her Vickie, who demonstrated a strong work ethic and a great deal of common sense.

Vickie was an immigrant fromMexico.  Her formal education there had ended with the sixth grade.  As a young mother, she needed work, and found it in the cafeteria of a local business, and was loyal to its owners for many years.  Once the owners realized what prospective talent they had right under their noses, they decided to help develop the woman for a supervisory role.  But, instead of “dropping her over the wall”, as I discussed in a previous article, they carefully chose ways to have her learn what was needed for her advancement.

Some classes at a local community college proved to be too rigorous for Vickie, so they discovered ways that were more self-paced and directly related to the position they had created, and for which they were grooming her.

Vickie responded in an extremely positive fashion to their efforts, absorbed information like a sponge, became extremely proficient at managing the food service function, which included preparing wholesome, and well-balanced menus for school age children, ordering everything for the food prep unit, preparing for meals if extended power outages occurred, a frequency in that part of the country, and finding creative ways to maintain the budget.

So, as you can see, Vickie’s managers were pleased with their investment and Vickie was pleased with the opportunity, promotion, salary increase and job enrichment.  It’s also evident that Vickie’s loyalty to the organization is dialed up to the maximum and it would be very difficult to lure her away from those two managers who provided for her advancement – a critical component of a very strong employee retention program.

If you own a business or manage a group of employees, I strongly urge you to find ways to develop them and provide job enrichment – even if their next opportunity lies at another company.  The more you do this, the sooner you’ll become . . . and stay an employer (or leader) of choice!