Geoff Bagg, CEO of The Bagg Group, on Lessons Learned from the Steve Jobs Style of Management


When I was interviewed by Pat Bolland on Sun TV recently, I was asked two key questions:  How do people get a job and how do employers retain the best talent?

In answer to the first question, I talked about the importance of mindset. In response to the second question, I talked on the one thing that The Bagg Group knows employees care about – a workplace that respects their potential and allows open communication between management and staff.

Steve Jobs drove the point home. Yet interestingly, with his untimely passing, there has been a great deal of talk in the media worldwide about what a “difficult” boss he was.  The New York Times described his style as “cantankerous”.

The British Daily Mail reported that it was a mistake to think “working for Steve Jobs was a walk in the park.  The Apple founder managed at once to create an atmosphere of teamwork and togetherness, while also demanding nothing but the best.”

However, according to research by Wired magazine online, the large majority of Apple employees approved of Jobs.  Job satisfaction ratings, and retention, at Apple have been among the highest in the industry for years.

The reason is simple:  Steve Jobs clearly respected people’s potential to be creative visionaries, just as he was one.  No doubt he was difficult.  No doubt his department managers had to work hard to smooth ruffled feathers after Jobs came down hard at meetings when his standards weren’t met.  But his belief in limitless possibilities inspired people to believe in their own abilities to excel.

James Allworth, who studied Apple at Harvard Business School, is quoted in the Huffington Post as saying, “The way he (Jobs) thinks about problems, the perfectionism, the attention to detail – that trickles down.”

Steve Jobs walked the talk and made it obvious that he knew his employees could do the same. As a result, thousands of Apple staff devoted their talents to help change the world.

Speaking with CNN before he became ill, Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people.  My job is … to take these great people we have and push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions on how it could be.”

And as for open communications:  The Bagg Group, having successfully placed 57,000 people in full-time positions, contract work and part-time placements over four decades is not surprised that Apple employees were loyal.

After all, Jobs was an advocate of company-wide communications.  He told CNN:  “I want them  (employees) making as good or better decisions than I would.  So the way to do that is to have them know everything, not just in the part of the business, but in every part of the business.”

Every Monday, staff was privy to a whole business review– what was working and what were proving to be trouble areas.

Ultimately, Steve Jobs bottled what truly drives employees when he said,  “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one of them should be really excellent.  Because this is our life.”

From experience talking with thousands of highly talented candidates in the GTA, at The Bagg Group we know that any employer who lives Steve Jobs words will motivate their employees to live them as well.   And that’s a gift of a legacy we would all be proud of.

Geoff Bagg,
CEO and President.

To see Geoff’s interview on Roundtable, click here.

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