I read a disturbing article recently on the front page of a local newspaper. It was about how a large, well-known and respected landscape company lost a contract it had been awarded by the town because of its inability to adequately staff itself so it could fulfill its contractual obligations.

The negative press not only damaged the firm’s brand and reputation, it also may affect the firm’s ability to attract or retain A-plus players. Most disturbing was that the entire situation was preventable.

You can avoid becoming the subject of a negative front-page article by keeping top of mind the four foundations of success: strategy, people, execution and cash. Having a well-thought-out workforce strategy, or roadmap, aligned with an executional framework and the relevant metrics will cover three of the four building blocks of success.

What’s of greatest importance is that you create a company strategy that is truly differentiated from your competition’s, along with some core values or rules that you never break. These things will define your company’s culture and personality so you’ll attract the right people.

Make certain you’ve developed job scorecards versus job descriptions. A job scorecard defines key performance indicators, alignment with your core values, competencies for the position and the specific results you need a person to achieve. Job descriptions simply list responsibilities and vague competencies with arbitrary timeframes for experience.

Align the scorecards with your employees’ strengths and keep them focused on those key performance indicators. Put money into training your people, especially your leaders, as it’s their responsibility to make sure that the right people are doing the right things right.

Find out what’s important to each team member in terms of compensation and pay people well, but remember that fairness doesn’t mean sameness. To keep great talent, you have to be creative and flexible.

Judith M. Guido is chairwoman of Guido & Associates, a business management company. She can be reached at judy@guidoassoc.com.