Seeking All-Stars: How to Hire and Retain Top Talent
With unemployment low, high skilled individuals have plenty of options when it comes to career choice. Different companies offer different environments, perks and benefits all aimed at drawing in potential employees and keeping them aboard. In a smaller firm, there may not be as many resources available to spring for the perks offered by some larger companies. Gym memberships, food truck Friday, or a massage therapist all sound great, but the costs can be prohibitive for your small business. So how does a small company attract and keep talented individuals, and keep an eye on the bottom line? The answer, in short, is culture. Having a positive culture will draw in talent and make them want to stay and perform. But what specifically should you be instilling in your culture to achieve this? Keep reading.
Start Off Right
You’ll want to begin by hiring the right individuals. Easier said than done, right? How do you determine if the person that interviews well will be able to do the job, and conversely how do you see through a nervous interview to the talent within? After an initial phone interview to qualify your candidate, you’ll want to schedule an in-person interview. Take time to get to know them beyond their work history. Ask behavioral interview questions. Ask them about lessons they learned from negative experiences, or how they handled criticism. These questions give you a glimpse of how the potential employee will behave when faced with adversity that their position may present. Don’t rush the hiring process, but also don’t delay if a worker is not a good fit. You’ll want to take steps quickly if you find an employee isn’t working out to prevent frustrating those that work with them.
Open communication in your small business is critical. Not only should you encourage open dialog between employees and their managers, but also with owners. Open discussion paves the way for conversations to take place when someone isn’t happy or has different career goals than their current position. Perhaps you have a star employee in sales, but they have a keen interest in operations. Due to an honest discussion, you may be able to have them help in operations to satisfy their goals and assist your business. If you have an employee with a suggestion, listen. It could save time, money or both. Additionally, if someone isn’t performing, but is a great fit culturally, you may be able to transition them to a position in which they will perform better. Retaining that employee saves time and money from having to rehire and train a new employee from the ground up, rather than just teaching them for a new position. Overall, you want to treat employees with respect and like the contributing individuals that they are, and not as a replaceable commodity.
To reward performance, you must be able to determine performance. Having clear, trackable performance metrics makes this possible. While you may not be able to offer expensive perks as a reward, you can provide profit sharing or additional personal time. You can also offer spot recognition with a gift card for a local restaurant, coffee or, my personal favorite, a breakfast sandwich. Creating opportunities and promoting high achieving employees from within provides a long-term career path at your company. You’ll want to be sure that you are aligning these opportunities with their career goals, so the employee doesn’t feel taken advantage of but feels rewarded. When things don’t go to plan, be sure to provide coaching, rather than punishment. Never threaten an employee’s position or income directly or allude to it. This type of behavior only breeds resentment, rather than drive performance.
Provide the proper tools
Look at the software and tools you are using at your company. Are they current for their respective industry, or have you been using them for years because they are inexpensive? If your software is difficult to use, inefficient or just out of date you could be frustrating your employees. You want to stay up-to-date on the software and tools your company uses, to ensure that your teams are working as efficiently as possible. It’s critical to stress this importance to managers as well, as they should be aware of the latest software for their respective departments. When hiring a new employee, talk to them about the tools and software they have used previously and what their thoughts are on it. Experienced individuals can provide priceless feedback on the different systems they have used in their careers and what has worked best. When starting a new employee, or rolling out a new system be sure to provide appropriate training so that the employees responsible for using it are have the skills needed to be successful. Nothing will frustrate an employee faster than not having the information they need to do their job.
While your small business won’t be a good fit for all the potential employees, who walk through your doors, taking these steps can help you find and retain the best possible workers. When you can arm your business with experienced, dedicated individuals, you can drive your business to success. Providing an excellent environment for workers to be successful and treating them well could be the secret sauce to retaining high-quality individuals.