My father-in-law has a rule that he will hire AND keep people who has TOM-K. After 25 years in the business, I think he knows what he’s talking about.
Now, what does Tom-K mean?
T – Tapat (Integrity)
O – Oras (Time to fulfill the job)
M – Malasakit (Empathy for the Company)
K – Kusa (Initiative)
As you may have noticed, Competency is not included in this list. That’s because competence is already a given when you hire someone. You hire someone because you already know they can do the job. That’s the basic requirement. But, you keep someone if they have Tom-K.
Why is Tom-K important for staff longevity?
T – Tapat or Integrity
Tapat or Integrity is important because you need staff you can trust and rely on.
Trust is different from relying on. Relying on is someone you can call when your house is burning and you need help. When there’s an emergency, even if it’s in the most inconvenient of times, you still have the peace of mind that you can call them and they will come.
I have had reliable people before. They’re the ones who chip in when other staff members abandon you. They’re the ones who agree to stay late just to finish a project. They’re the ones who will help you pack up even if it’s after midnight. They’re the ones who don’t go to the family reunion because you sorely need their help.
But integrity is important. For example, what use is a reliable person if she isn’t honest? What if you can depend on her to be there, but secretly, she’s stealing from you? I’ve had such experience as documented here.
When you’re running a business, you need someone you can trust. Someone you can ask to deposit Php 1 M in cash, and won’t run away. Someone who knows the difference between right or wrong.
It doesn’t matter if he is your messenger or your second-in-command. What’s important is you can entrust them to be honest with their work, and to put in their best work even if you’re not constantly watching.
Now, that’s true integrity.
O – Oras (Time to do the job)
What use is an employee if they’re unavailable? I have a very competent assistant right now who has been late a few days in a row. Consequently, work stops when she’s still not there.
My business is in retail and we are open especially on holidays and weekends. To be honest, the only time we are closed is when the mall closes. What if the person want to spend time with their family during holidays? What if they want to take 2 week vacations?
If a person cannot show up to work, then what use is that person?
You need a person who can follow office hours and be there when you need them. If the job requires overtime, they should understand this and not grumble and complain. If the job needs them to answer their phones even if they’re on vacation, then so be it.
Find someone who has the time to do the job, not someone who’ll come up with a million reasons why they can’t be there.
M – Malasakit or Love/Empathy for the Employer
The employer-employee relationship is strictly transactional. People give you a level of service because you pay them. If they go on an overtime, you pay them overtime pay. Everything is professional and by the book. You really get what you pay for.
However, for a business’ longevity, love and empathy need to exist between the employer and employee.
What does this mean?
This means that the employee need to have the heart for the employer. Business is sometimes up and down and it’s hard if an employee abandons ship when you need them the most. Given that they are staking their livelihood onto the company, it’s crucial that they also embody their employer as if they own the company.
It is only then can the employee be excellent. No matter how talented or excellent an employee can be, it’s useless if the employee does not act in your behalf as if they own the company.
Sure, I can always get sales staff who can man our branches and sell our product.
But only those who love their job can reach the quotas and sell. Because they know that sales are the lifeblood of the company, and without sales, the company will shut down. Even if they’re only manning one branch, they do whatever it takes to contribute their share.
Sure, I can always get supervisors who will rove and go around the store.
But only those who love their job who can really get mad when sales are down. They just don’t get mad. They get furious. They push your staff to work harder than they’ve ever had before. When people love their job, you get excellence.
K – Kusa (Initiative)
Initiative happens when you’re not looking. When you’re busy doing other things, you need staff who are doing their best work even when you’re not there.
It’s such a hassle when people don’t have initiative, when they need constant supervision for them to work. If they need a babysitter, then why should I hire them? That’s why I like staff who I can trust to do the work even when I’m not there. Who don’t just show off to impress, but work because that’s how they really work, even without people looking.
It’s these people with initiative who go the extra mile. And as a business owner, you want the extra mile. Because it is this extra mile who can make your business successful.
When my husband’s dad told me about Tom-K, I just shrugged it off. Anyway, TOM-K should already be a given in any job, right?
No, it’s not a given. In fact, it’s actually rare.
So, continue to do your business. But if you’re looking for people who will stay, look for those with TOM-K. You won’t regret it.