Growing your workforce can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, and to be honest, I see more business owners who have got it wrong than have got it right. In fact, many business owners have stopped growing their teams altogether, because they have made so many mistakes with recruitment which have cost them so much time, money and effort that they cannot face going through the process again.
But the truth of the matter is that you cannot grow your business without growing your team, and if you want more out of your business, you have to learn how to put more in to recruiting and developing your staff.
The problem with growing the workforce stems from the fact that business owners generally recruit too late, and therefore do so in haste, when there is a role that needs somebody with greater capability than they have in-house, and they need to fill that gap quickly. An advert goes out, interviews get done and the best available candidate at the time gets hired. It is almost as if the need to recruit comes as a surprise to them, but it’s no surprise that the person that they hire often turns out to be the wrong person for the job.
To avoid the problem of employing the wrong person, the first step in the process should happen long before you actually need to hire somebody new. Every business should have a business plan that shows what it is trying to grow in to, a bit like a blue print for a house you want to build. You would not start building the house without first drawing up the plans for what it will look like when it’s finished. Likewise, you need a clear vision of what your business will look like when it’s fully grown.
The business plan should incorporate financial targets for your sales and profits and from that starting point, you can work out the number of people you are going to need to achieve those targets. The plan should also incorporate an organisation chart, showing what the team will look like when the business is finished. Obviously you will not be able to put names to the roles at this stage, because the finish point will be 5-10 years hence and you don’t know who you will be employing then, and you may even decide that your name is not on the organisation chart! The chart will show the key roles such as MD, Finance Director, Head of Marketing etc. Each role will need to have a set of responsibilities assigned to it, and the lines of communication will need to be plotted, so you know will be responsible to whom in the organisation.
So now you have an idea of what the business will look like when it’s completed, and the type of skills you will need to run it in the future. The challenge in the early years of growing your business is that all those roles (sales, marketing, finance, HR) are always there, it is just that you have only a few people to do them, so everything is a compromise. The quicker you can grow sales, the quicker profits will grow and the quicker you will be able to take people on to do the work and fill the planned roles.
Having this long term plan means that you can undertake recruitment in a more measured and strategic way, and this will give you a greater chance of recruiting the right people, who will be an asset to your business, rather than a headache to you and a drain on your resources.
I always stress to my clients that it is equally if not more important to recruit people with the right attitude as the right skills, qualifications or experience. Skills can be taught and developed, but somebody’s attitude is very difficult to change, so I find it preferable to recruit people with the right attitude into the business and train and develop them to move into higher skilled positions.
Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,” and this is very true. An employee with a “bad” attitude can disrupt the workplace and upset your other staff, suppliers and customers as well as making your life hell. Great skills will never make up for a poor attitude.
It’s vital therefore that you identify the specific attitudes that you want in an employee, and that in the recruitment/interview process, you incorporate steps that will enable the candidates to demonstrate that they possess the required attitudes. The sort of attitudes that you might consider important in an employee are positivity, motivation, resilience, innovation and collaboration – it depends on many factors such as your business culture, your team, your leadership style etc.
(NB: attitudes are much less easy to assess through the recruitment/interview process than skills and qualifications. However, we use a great recruitment process that does facilitate the assessment of these factors – contact us if you’d like our Recruitment Cheat Sheet sent through to you.)
Now you have your attitudinal criteria and strategic plan in mind, you can be constantly on the look out for potential future team members – when you are networking or meeting with suppliers, customers and other business contacts. When you find a great candidate, bring them on board and make sure that you work to retain, develop and reward them with a view to future progression within the business. Regular training courses, mentoring and performance reviews will be needed to ensure their skills and confidence grow.
This will enable you to develop a pool of home grown talent to draw on, who have the advantage of knowing the intricacies of the business, the team dynamics and the relationships with suppliers and customers, all of which would take external candidates time to get to grips with. Nurturing your in-house talent has the advantage of building their loyalty, as they will appreciate your investment in them and will be ready to step up into new roles and continue to grow your business for you.
So go on – take Action, and start growing your team’s talent now! And if you need any help, why not come along to our next Team Mastery Workshop?