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 actually given up trying to grow their teams altogether! Unfortunately, their past mistakes with recruitment have cost them so much time, money and effort that they can’t face going through the process again.
But the truth of the matter is that you cannot grow your business without growing your team. If you want more out of your business, you have to learn how to put more in to recruiting and developing your staff.
Plan your business!
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, if you wanted to build a house.) You wouldn’t 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. 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.
Plan your team!
Obviously you will not be able to put specific names to all of 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. You may even decide that your name is not going to be 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 who 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. 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.
It’s all about attitude!
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! It’s preferable therefore 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, upfront. You then need to make sure that the recruitment and interview process allows candidates to demonstrate that they possess the attitudes you are looking for.
The sort of attitudes that you might consider important in an employee are:
- a positive outlook,
- self motivation,
- innovation, and
- a collaborative style
However, what will be important to you depends on many factors, such as your business culture, your existing team, your leadership style etc.
Be aware that 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 – please contact us if you’d like our Recruitment Cheat Sheet sent through to you.
Become a talent scout!
Now you have your strategic plan and attitudinal criteria in mind, you can be constantly on the look out for potential future team members! Keep your ideal team member in mind, whether 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 approach will enable you to develop a pool of home grown talent to draw on when more senor roles arise. These people will 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?