No matter what industry your business is based in, all entrepreneurs and small business owners share one thing in common – the desire to see their business grow and become more profitable. In most cases, this drive leads to a focus on looking out for new markets or finding new ways to attract new customers. And yet, few business owners consider the importance that growing and developing their team of employees plays in helping their company to achieve greater prosperity and stability.
Indeed, in a recent survey among owners of the fastest growing small businesses in North America, over 77% of respondents said that “hiring the right people” played a significant role in their company’s ability to grow. Of course, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t start their companies so they can be in a position to lead others. Instead, most embrace the entrepreneurial spirit in order to ‘be their own boss’ and not to become someone else’s.
This is probably why many treat the hiring of new employees as if they were securing another vendor in their product supply chain. In other words, business owners tend to simply look for someone to pass off some of the issues they face in getting their products/services out into the hands of their customers. While this approach can help provide some short term gains, it prevents business owners from understanding the value employees offer to the future growth of their company.
So how can business owners develop a team of employees that will help propel the growth of their companies? Here are some tips on where to begin.
1. Find people that compliment your company’s strengths
Let’s face it – one of the things that makes it enjoyable to go to work everyday is being able to roll up our sleeves and collaborate with people we share a common bond with. This could be liking the same kind of music or movies, being able to relate to the same life experiences, and so forth. As the owner of your own business, it’s only natural that we’d like to find that common bond in those who we wish to hire as a member of our team.
However, what’s equally important is making sure you find people who can fill in the existing gaps found in your organization. As much as we all enjoy having others approve or support our viewpoints, we also need to make sure that we have people in our team who are able to see issues that remain outside our field of view and advise us accordingly of how our plans might be failing to address them.
Don’t forget that the most effective way to encourage innovation and gain access to unique approaches to product/service development is by fostering a diversity of voices in the make-up of your team.
2. Hand off responsibilities instead of micromanaging
Recently, after listening to one of my clients talking with pride about the current rise in revenue their company was achieving, I commented how this would be a great time for them to look into hiring some people to join their team. My client looked at me with dread and said “I have too much work already that I don’t have time to worry about making sure someone else is doing this work”. Unfortunately, my client’s impression about bringing new people into your team is a common one.
When you hire someone to join your company, you shouldn’t be thinking – or worse, expecting – that this person will need your constant supervision; in other words, the proverbial looking over their shoulders bit. Instead, your goal in expanding your team is to transfer responsibilities to others so you can turn your attention to the ever-changing needs of your growing company.
As such, when problems come up, entrust those you’ve hired to handle these issues instead of jumping in to put out the fires yourself. That should be, after all, the reason why you hired them in the first place.
3. Treat their position as more than just a job
While you might be viewing these new hires as team members who are there to help take some of the workload off your shoulders, it’s important that you consider the situation from their end if you really want to develop a strong team to help your company move forward.
For your new employees, these roles shouldn’t seem like mere jobs that need to be filled; instead, you need to create an understanding that these are career positions, with opportunities for professional growth as the company further develops and prospers. Although your employees might not have the same level of personal investment in your business as you do, you can still encourage that desire in them to see the company succeed by providing them with coaching and resources to grow so that in the future they can help with leading the new teams/divisions that will be created as your company grows.
Remember, employees are not just motivated by money. They spend almost half of their waking time working for you. They want to feel like that time is an investment, not just a necessary evil needed to pay the rent. Employees want to enjoy their work and their work environment. They want to feel good about their work and the company they work for. Filling these needs can go a long way to fostering a team of long term, loyal, and productive employees.
With this in mind, start making plans demonstrating a career path for your employees. Talk to them about what is required to grow from one level to the next and provide them with training opportunities in order to move up to these next levels. Be sure to also set up clear, measurable goals and expectations right from the start so that both your new employee and you can track their progress and see where they might need some additional help or training.
Although our objective might be to seek opportunities for our company to grow, it’s important that we recognize the change this will bring to our role in the business, as we move from being solely in charge of developing our company to helping with the development of others who we bring into the team to help our organization mature and prosper.