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3 Truths of the Trade about Employees

by Rosalinda Rivera

My first business venture started when I was about eight years old—clipping the flowers out of my mother’s garden, walking door to door, selling the product. No employees. I may have been tempted to think life was easy. Then I ran a jewelry factory two years later. I put charms on chains and went about selling those to the same neighbors for five dollars or less.

At the age of 12, I wanted a business that would cater to the cravings of my consumer, while offering convenience and competitive prices. So I began the risky business of selling candy in school. I displayed all my products in a large Ziploc bag tied to my bookbag. I was open for business. I was a walking sweet shop, and the product was flying off the shelf.

My innovative adventures didn’t stop when I graduated from high school at 17. I envisioned more. With the help of investors—my parents—a loan of $1000 turned into $100,000. Soon I became the youngest entrepreneur to sign a national mall lease at the age of 21. That’s when life with employees began.

I went from being a one girl band to employing ten workers, filling 125 weekly retail hours at the mall. Throughout my career of retail sales, telecommunications sales and ministry where I oversee more than 100 employees and hundreds of volunteers, I have discovered a few truths of the trade that have helped increase employee retention and relations.

1. People Are Looking for Their Purpose to Be Fulfilled—Not Yours.

When an employee feels fulfillment at his job, he will perform better. A sense of belonging to a greater purpose produces a sense of connection. In the bookseller industry, we know we are touching and changing lives. Allowing input through an open market expression of ideas from your staff will not only produce a variety of concepts to help you better market but also give the employee a sense of ownership and personal accomplishment. I have personally advanced in my career because employees felt valued and, in turn, found purpose in my passion.

2. Resist Hiring Out of Compassion; Instead, Hire Competence.

I am a huge advocate of the emotional quotient test. Large corporations struggled with why their CEOs had the credentials on paper but couldn’t keep their emotional balance to lead the company. Although IQ reflects a person’s intelligence level, EQ reveals one’s emotional capacity.

The Emotional Quotient Test was developed to help employers sort through potential hires who might be high impact assets to the company, and also low-maintenance team members. If I could listen in to your thoughts, I bet I’d hear an aha moment taking place. When you hire because of the person’s needs and not the need of the company, after the team member has met his need, he will often walk out on you. Informal reviews can keep you prepared and informed and ahead of the departure.

3. There Are Some Things That Money Can’t Buy.

This could not be truer than when it comes to two attributes that I feel are priceless: honesty and loyalty. In my early CEO days, my husband and I had three stores in three cities. Every manager stole from us. The problem? Our core values weren’t aligned.

Having staff with similar standards and beliefs will give you peace of mind. In your training time, teaching and talking about company values will instill a purposeful awareness that can be rewarded and recognized.

We cannot assume that our team knows their contribution is valued and necessary. We must communicate our appreciation for each member’s work or one by one, they will go somewhere that will—or they will stay, but their productivity will steadily decrease.

Setting up contests and recognition challenges will take you further and create excitement within your sales teams. Always take time to say thank you. A text, an email, or better yet, a handwritten card will yield high dividends for both you and your staff. CRA

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