For many business owners and leaders that headline should read, Ready, Aim FIRE!
It’s the age-old business dilemma: ‘How do I hire and retain good people to work with me?’
For two decades I have heard small business owners and leaders scream the following sentences over and over and over again.
1. Where can I find good staff?
2. I just can’t seem to motivate my people?
3. Why do all the good people always leave?
4. How do I keep them interested? – What do I have to do to get them to go the extra mile?
In the main business leaders look to individual staff members to ‘lift their game’ or ‘get it right’ or ‘show some initiative.’
As a business leader, what would you think the common denominator is when it comes to staffing issues… It’s YOU!
The answer is that there are PLENTY of good people out there. They just want to work for good firms, under good leadership. And both are things that you CAN control.
Who’s hiring whom?
You’d think because you have the business, you have the job, and you have the career path that you hold the gold when hiring staff, right? Wrong.
Potential staff of today are now inspecting businesses and their leaders to see if they are a match. And it’s not just a career match, but a cultural and philosophical match that they are looking to find. They are looking for purpose, and incentive and a reason to get out of bed each day, not just about a pay cheque.
So what do you look like as a business and a business leader to these people?
Here’s a check list for you to prepare your end of the deal for a future employee:
1. Be clear about the company purpose and philosophy. And not just some rhetoric ‘vision’ or ‘mission’ statement that you’ve had hanging on the wall for the last three years. Develop something with MEANING, and PURPOSE. Something that shows you do have a human side to the business. This will allow your potential to understand what you stand for, and allow them to work out if that matches their values.
2. Be clear about your personal vision for yourself, the business and the people in it. I am not talking about sales numbers or growth figures, or how many offices or staff you’re going to have by end of year. I am talking about ‘what you want to be when you grow up.’ What do you and your business look like in five years? And how do the people you have working in it fit into the picture? This allows your candidate to see how THEY might fit in the bigger picture.
3. Be specific about your incentive program in the business. At this point I am sure some of you are saying, ‘what incentive program’? I’ll come back to this one.
Your interview style should be as you are, and act, every day in the business. Too often business people put on a brave front to show the candidates how clever they are. Be honest, real, and open. This will have them relax as well and allow you to see them in their real environment.
OK, you got me!
Once hired, the hard work starts, and not for your new employee. For you.
One of the biggest challenges you have as a business owner or leader when inducting and training new staff is discipline. With your routine comes a routine for your staff. If a new staff member arrives in the business and walks into chaos, they will assume that is the way the business works best.
Put some order into your day. Set meetings, updates, staff reviews, and be clear on what, where and when you will share information with staff so they can see routine, transparency and involvement in the business.
Lead me, feed me, love me, keep me
There is a clear rule when is comes to staff retention, and that is that staff do not leave businesses, they leave leaders. And good leaders are not born, they evolve.
Over the years and the ten businesses I have owned I have learned that there are four key leadership traits in a true leader.
Let me expand for you.
Master – The Master is the visionary. They trust, and live, off their own intuition. The Master has values. And these values are driven from their personal vision.
Mentor – The Mentor is the teacher the person that feeds the team with information to help them grow. But to be a teacher you must first learn what you are to teach. The teacher must be open to being taught, and not just by their own mentors and peers, but by their subordinates and those they lead. Only then will the Mentor be able to match the wealth of knowledge from the old, to the potential next big thing of the young.
Manager – The Manager initiates action in the business and monitors progress through discipline. In the first instance their discipline, and then that of their subordinates.
Mate – The Mate trait shows empathy, compassion and understanding and unity with their team. This is particularly important with generation ‘Y.’ The mate trait is friendly, but firm and shows the human side of the leader.
Get these things in shape and you are in good shape to keep your team.
What’s in it for me?
So many business people believe that, if they pay their people then they have fulfilled their duty to them and they in turn should be putting in a ‘good days work.’
Well, maybe that worked 10 years ago, but not today.
Look to develop a structured incentive program in your business, something with clear milestones and markers, each with a reward for effort.
It’s not good enough for them to simply be paid. They need to feel the love. They need to feel like they are contributing to the team effort and being rewarded for that.
By way of example, we have a system in our business where we set financial goals for the year and the team are rewarded on achieving something over and above those goals. In addition if we hit our quarterly markers throughout the year we have mini rewards or incentives.
Hiring and keeping good staff is not that hard. If we, as business leaders, take responsibility for our actions and for the fact that only we can make the difference, then we are the common denominator in the equation.
So, what can YOU do to make ready when you aim to hire?