How to Thrive When You’re Worried

“Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but it never gets you anywhere.” — Erma Bombeck
Tonik U0wwiy6nrga Unsplash

To quote Erma Bombeck, “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but it never gets you anywhere.” None of us could have predicted that we’d be facing a pandemic followed by war and unprecedented inflation. Not surprisingly, it seems that everyone is waiting for something else to happen and the whole world is tense with worry. However, there is a way to strengthen and protect your business, replacing worry with a path to get you where you want to go and thrive.

The stronger your business is, the less likely it will be affected by unforeseen challenges and events. Better financial management is not the simple solution. Strengthening and protecting your business in any environment takes a strategic recruitment and retention plan that supports your people, who will in turn help maintain and grow your customer base. One depends completely on the other.

Your plan should be based on two guiding principles: hiring for shared values and alignment, and building happy, supportive workplace cultures where employees and customers bond effectively — nourishing relationships, increasing retention, and creating a more sustainable future for your business. Use two underlying strategies to help execute your plan:

Hire for character, then for competency.

Most of us were taught that you should “hire for competence and fire for character.” There’s nothing neutral about character. Employees who do not share your corporate values actually dilute them. They detract from the essence that defines your company and drives your success. If you find that you must fire someone for their character, the damage has already been done.

Here’s how to know for certain whether the person you want to hire is a good match with your values and culture. Start by ensuring you have a laser clear understanding of who you are as a company by asking yourself questions like “what makes my company unique?” “Can I define, specifically, what my core corporate values are and how I live them daily?” “Can I describe what my work environment is like day to day?” When everyone in your organization answers these questions the same way, you can ask new candidates the same questions and measure their responses to ensure alignment.

The next step is behavioral interviewing. Train your hiring managers to ask behavior-related questions. This means asking candidates to solve real problems they may face in their new job and describe how they handled a particular situation or person in a previous job. Behavioral interviewing gives you two kinds of insight: real-world action taken to get a job done and a deeper sense of character based on what was important or difficult for them, how decisions were made, and similar details.

If the candidate’s character fits with your community, interview that person a second time to assess their competency. Assessments give you further insights into the thinking, specific skills, and cultural fit of candidates and the ability to compare them to current employees. They help ensure that you have the right people in the right roles to do their jobs well.

Build a culture that puts people above everything else.

Being a people-first community is your strongest competitive edge in winning top candidates and retaining employees. Companies that put people first are kind, respectful, fair, caring, and empathetic — nearly the opposite of how workplaces used to be, and many are still. They have a sense of community that harnesses their collective talents and energies to achieve big ideas. Alignment is the natural outcome when you build your community around the common good character of your employees, whose leaders care about their wellbeing.

Today, the most important common trait found in the best leaders is empathy. There is no stronger way to show that you put your people first. In addition to valuing and modeling empathy, great leaders build morale, trust, and motivation through clear and transparent communication, empowering decision-making, being flexible, trusting that people will get the job done, and leading by example.

When you face challenges, be flexible and fair in finding solutions and involve employees in the decision-making. Keep people in the loop about what’s going on with the business. Ask employees what they need and want and consider expanding benefits with a range of options that are valued by employees.

These strategies are essential to successful recruitment and retention and in building high-performing communities. Following them will help you thrive through any perceived or real challenges on the horizon. And no more worrying; everything is going to be okay.



Kathleen Quinn Votaw2 is Founder/CEO and Speaker/Author of TalenTrust and KQV Speaks. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle: How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016; with the second book, Dare to Care in the Workplace: A Guide to the New Way We Work and related Podcast launched between 2021-2022.

Kathleen and her firm have achieved many recognitions from many well-known organizations, including ColoradoBiz Magazine, Vistage Worldwide, and the coveted Inc. 5000 for two consecutive years. Kathleen is a regularly published columnist and popular speaker on topics related to HR strategies and workplace culture. Reach Kathleen at or (303) 838-3334.

Categories: Business Insights