When you start a business, retail or service related, there comes a point (hopefully) that your venture becomes so large that you just can’t do it alone. Hiring employees can be daunting because human relations and character evaluation isn’t for everyone. Personally, I am a trusting soul and will probably have a number of missteps when I first start hiring talent. However; getting, keeping and managing good employees is worth your time and effort, and there are a few basic keys to getting started on the right foot.
Finding and Keeping Talented Employees
1) Be genuinely interested. Remember birthdays, childrens’ names and anniversaries. This doesn’t just make the people around you feel special, but it’s a push toward earning their loyalty and their family’s loyalty. After you send the Mrs. flowers on her anniversary, her allegiance may make her more likely to push her husband out the door on the days he’s considering calling in sick.
2) If you have a labor-intensive business, the scientific approach is key. Find the EXACT way an employee should perform the task and teach them EXACTLY how it should be done. This not only helps you earn money in a shorter period of time, but it keeps up the worker morale. Nothing brings a person down faster than working tirelessly without making headway because their hard work isn’t refined or efficient.
3) Feel free to delegate tasks to an employee without much instruction (if is not labor-intensive or allows for creative interpretation,) “Why don’t you and Jen take care of the seating and table settings for the investors’ lunch meeting? $300 budget, practical but somewhat formal.” Something as simple as that would give any worker a sense of pride that you trust their judgement and decisions. PLUS, that’s one less thing you have to worry about and you’re left to prepare for the lunch meeting presentation.
4) Hire motivated people. It is far too arduous for a small business to extrinsically motivate workers. Find people who like to do well because doing a good job satisfies themselves internally. That’s not to say bonuses aren’t a good thing, but they should not be used as an incentive to simply do a job well– that’s what they should be doing in the first place. Look for someone who uses words and phrases like, “self-motivated,” “hardworking,” “provide the best service,” “put forth every effort.” These are big statements that people who always need a push are unlikely use.
5) Pay well. Granted, you don’t want to go broke due to your generosity. But pay more than labor unions suggest (if you aren’t a union shop.) Don’t pay less than what you would like to be paid for doing their job. It is not a good thing to go home at night thinking, “Wow, I sure can’t believe they are willing to do all that for $xx an hour.” Feeling like you’re taking advantage of your workers will always have you checking over your shoulder, waiting for them to quit or steal from you.
6) Deal with crisis calmly. Do not ever let your employees see that you don’t know what to do in an emergency situation because chaos and doubt will soon follow, or worse– they may lose respect for you and question your leadership abilities.
7) Learn your management style and stick with it. Whether you want to be democratic or completely authoritarian, choose a style and commit. People want to know what to expect from their manager on a regular basis. Do NOT let your mood affect how you interact with your employees.
8) Communicate well. Use more than one method of message delivery– maybe mention something at a meeting then follow-up with an email. Try to make it short; you don’t need 5 examples for every touchpoint. Read your audience. If they look bored, then they are truly asleep on the inside– speak quickly so as not to lose their attention.
9) Praise in public and discipline in private. No one wants everyone knowing the mistakes they’ve made, yet we would love for our boss to advertise when we’ve done good work. Be generous with praises, it will make others want to earn them as well. Be gentle with criticism, you don’t want your employees to feel that their efforts are unappreciated or are overshadowed by their errors. Persuade and convince them to do a good job, rarely order or demand top performance.
10) Just be honest. Be honest in your words and be honest in your actions. If your business needs to eliminate a shift to save money, don’t hide that from your employees or let the rumors get to them first. I guarantee if you tell them that you need to let them go in 2 months, yet you will write them a recommendation so shining that their mothers would wish it were true, then you probably will get that last 2 months of work out of them. If you hide that fact? The rumors will have people quitting within weeks. People know when they are being lied to and they know when they are being cheated. Keeping it real and fair will foster trust and loyalty throughout the company.