No matter what business you think you are in, you wind up in the personnel management business. Your first hires will require a great deal of your time and energy with no guarantees. Your way may conflict with their previous way of doing things.

For the most part, great employees are not found, they’re made. In order to delegate and allow your company to grow, you really have no choice.

All this takes time, energy, preparation and lots of patience, but by working together in concert, you can see wonders.

1. Good Seed. Start with people who demonstrate a high degree of integrity, take responsibility for their own behavior and have a history of long-term commitment. They should be willing to learn and extrapolate conceptual ideas and apply them to new situations. A good way to test this is to give the applicant a verbal run down of the job, the company’s challenges and your expectations for the position. Then, have them send you a one-page summary on a deadline. This will tell you volumes.

2. Good Ground. Make sure their job is clearly defined in writing and explains how your products and services produce the income to pay their salary, bonus and benefits. We used to give our people a “Money Map”. It started with the consumer and worked its way back through distribution, production, and all the payables to finally get to their check. This gave them respect for how and where the money came from – the customer, of course.

3. Care. You must inspect what you expect, especially in the first year. Once you are convinced you have “good seed” it’s worth your while to regularly spend time with them answering questions and mentoring. Listen to what’s behind their questions to discover what they really need to excel in their new position.

4. Light and Space. Give them permission to make mistakes. That’s what allows them to develop into the independent decision makers you need to confidently delegate. To “make those mistakes right,” have them write down what needs to be done to prevent those mistakes in the future. Have them make new polices, procedures, checklists, sign-offs, or whatever, but they have to document everything. Consider rewriting their job description to fit their real skill set.

5. Nutrients. Give them the training they need, in person and in writing. If a document doesn’t exist, have them write it. Create a mini manual for every job with the growing list of frequently asked questions and as many charts and graphs as are necessary to depict processes, relationships and decisions. Provide outside training with conferences, or field time with sales or production staff. The more they understand your total operation, the faster they will become invaluable.

6. Time. How much time you give them before they “get it” really depends on the position, their ability to learn, and how much faith you have in them personally. Some folks take longer but “get it” at a core level. Others may learn a specific process quickly, but miss the big picture. So it’s a judgment call based on your assessment of their progress and conceptual understandings, and the preparation, time and energy you have put in.

Even if you do these essentials, there’s no guarantee of success, but you will be much more likely to succeed. To grow those new hires into fruitful producers it takes preparation, permission and patience.

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact