Identifying good people to work in your small business is crucial for your success. A wrong hire can result in untold damage across your entire operation.
Think about the toxicity of some corporate environments. The backstabbing, bitchiness and brutal atmosphere started somewhere, by someone.
This person got away with it unchallenged and they were free to continue behaving like that. In fact, because they were a person perceived not to mess it, they probably got promoted. As they rise the ranks, their attitude goes with them. The more power they get the nastier they become.
As this person continues within this corporation, what do others see? Somebody who keeps getting promoted.
For others who want to climb the ladder, what do you do? Start to behave like this person too.
Just like that a toxic culture has been created and it can take years to break (if it ever does).
Small businesses are not corporations but the same applies. One single person can destroy how a small business functions and ruin an external reputation.
There are several factors that contribute to the success or failure of a business and your staff must be considered high on that list. A smart small business will know this and go to extra effort to hire, support and retain the right people.
It really doesn’t matter how great your products or services are and how detailed (and correct) your strategy is, without the right people in place it’s debatable whether you'll achieve what you set out to.
So, how do you hire, support and retain the right people?
Here’s what you need to consider.
The word ‘culture’ is overused in business and so many leaders think culture is a table tennis table in the office, working from home or Friday night drinks. None of that is culture, that’s just trying to create something that’s probably not there - most staff just want to leave work when Friday is done anyway.
Culture means ownership among the entire staff base. If your employees take ownership over the role, what they need to deliver and where the business is heading, you’re breeding a ‘culture’ of success.
Conversely, if a leader just expects staff to do their job and hand it up the line for approval these staff won’t buy into the business they work for.
A culture of ownership among people within your company is a good indicator of success for your business and this is different from a culture of accountability usually applied by traditional organisations and business owners.
Nurturing a culture of ownership in your business involves inspiring your people, taking them from being mere employees to team members with an owner mindset.
A traditional business approach is to assign generic levels of accountability to leaders and employees within an organisation. Performance is then measured based on a range of metrics the business owners feel best relay the timely completion of tasks and other specific responsibilities related to the job role or department.
However, over time most people working within this form of accountability (and scrutiny) learn to work the stats and hide problems. The implications of not raising and addressing issues are obvious and are rarely positive. In essence it is counter-productive in terms of what accountability should mean.
Yet, employees with an owner mindset measure progress by how they accomplish the tasks they took ownership of — it is not given to them.
In accomplishing such tasks, they are able to identify the issues that hinder them and they feel responsible for the completion and success of the aspect of the business they have taken ownership for. They are loyal and committed to the vision, mission, and values of the business, accepting them as their own.
How many times have you seen somebody promoted into a leadership position simply because they’ve been working at the company the longest? This is so counterproductive to success it’s soul destroying to other staff members.
Being in a place the longest doesn’t necessarily form the basis for a good leader. In fact, far from it. Sometimes these people find themselves in a position they don’t know how to manage and shouldn’t be in the first place.
A successful company knows how to identify and nurture potential leaders within their organisation. They spend time and resources developing the leadership skills of the right employees through relevant training and development experiences and will look for outside leadership abilities if they don’t have it in their team.
In some senses, it can be confronting when an outside person comes in and starts leading staff who have been with a business longer, but if they’re the right leader and empower their team, the team will follow them.
Your company’s recruitment and selection process should focus not only on finding candidates with the right set of functional or technical skills, but also take into consideration how a candidates’ aptitude and attitude fit into the culture of ownership.
Don’t look for mere employees. Your selection process needs to identify team members with an owner mindset (or the makings of it). It should alert you to the people that will fit in with your culture, vision and values.
A robust selection process gets you loyal and empowered employees, who take ownership and responsibility for getting good work done well.
You don’t get to number one without taking the time to train and develop your team. While this may take resources to achieve, a small business will reap the benefits.
A successful company commits time and resources to improving the skills, knowledge, and behaviours of the people that deliver their products and services through training and development.
There are several competitive advantages businesses can gain from this, aside from obvious increases in performance, like avoiding micromanagement, establishing a culture of innovative ideas, and developing employee engagement.
Performance Management 101: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
It is considered best practice to measure performance based on yearly, quarterly and/or monthly goals and outcomes. You set clear expectations, based on realistic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and these are then measured with the use of robust, appropriate systems and tools.
Looking at the corporate example mentioned earlier, strong but fair KPIs need to be in place to avoid culture turning complacent.
We’ve all worked in jobs where we question what other staff members do (if anything) and wonder why they get away with such a relaxed and unmotivated demeanor towards their job. Chances are, they’ve never been held accountable to their actions and behaviours because their performance has never been marked against KPIs.
Modern staff are not like they were 60 years ago, where somebody got a job and stayed in it for 40 years. According to the Australian College of Applied Psychology, Australian workers will have five to seven career changes.
Such choice in work (before COVID-19) means that staff won’t stay long if they don’t like it. That means if they’re good people to have in your business you need to keep them.
The reality is, if they want to go they will, so you need to get them rusted on to your values and committed to your mission. Failure to do this will mean you’ll inevitably be down a good person.
Having the right people is a critical component within the business ecosystem.
Even with all the other components in place, without the right people your business may never achieve success, or your Ultimate Objective.
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