Find and Retain Top People for Your Small Business

By Andrew Field

Every small business owner knows that surrounding yourself with the right people is an indispensable ingredient in reaching business goals quickly and cost effectively. But with small businesses employing 50% of the country’s private sector work force and representing 99.7% of all employer firms (per SBA), the competition for finding, hiring, and retaining top candidates is fierce.

The process may seem daunting, but the following seven simple steps will help you attract and support the best performers for your organization:

1. Create an Effective Hiring Process

Don’t rush into hiring someone. Create a detailed search process that locates and attracts the best candidates. Research all avenues, including recruiters, online search services, career Websites, industry sites, print ads, e-newsletters, and internal/external referrals.

Once you find good candidates, take the time to hold comprehensive interviews. Define candidate questions in advance, schedule several interviews with various team members, give appropriate testing, and be sure to check all references.

Rather than seeing the hiring process as a mundane ordeal, make it an exciting priority. After all, you are not only taking the time to find a new staff member, but you are also making a large investment in the future of your company.

2. Look for the Very Best

As you start receiving resumes, don’t be intimidated by high levels of education and skill. Your goal is to find new employees who bring the most knowledge, talent, and experience into your organization. Ultimately, they will add value by helping you and your team work more efficiently.

And as you hire the best, start reviewing current employees. Are they exceeding expectations and adding value to the bottom line? If not, don’t be afraid to let poor performers go. Act quickly and make necessary changes to keep productivity levels up and to remain competitive in the marketplace.

3. Offer Appropriate and Extensive Training to All Employees

Once you expend a lot of resources finding, and hiring the best, your work really begins. Now it’s time to concentrate on training employees and providing them with the skills they need to succeed for themselves and your business.

And with the fast speed of business today, both your new and current team members should be constantly involved in some kind of training process. Whether it’s to increase technical, management, customer service, communication, and/or personal skills, allocate resources for training purposes. After all, your employees must know how to provide the high-quality products and services your customers want. It’s also important that they remain up to date on the latest industry trends and news.

4. Create a Fun Environment

If you want to see less turnover and higher productivity levels, it’s essential to develop a fun environment. Try to create a culture where employees feel comfortable and want to spend time. Build team relationships and creativity through events such as barbeques, contests, sporting games, and more. If employees enjoy their jobs and coworkers, they’ll be less likely to look for employment elsewhere.

5. Provide Key Equipment and Tools

Set aside funds for new technology, equipment, and other pertinent items. And keep up with the latest industry trends as well as what your competition is up to. This way, you’ll be able to provide your employees with the resources they need to serve customers as effectively as possible.

Offer mentoring or coaching programs to help staffers learn new skills, work through problems, and reach their career goals. Many average employees will exceed your expectations if they receive just a little individual guidance and encouragement.

6. Avoid Micromanagement

After you provide all of the appropriate training, equipment, and mentoring, stand back and let your superstar employees take action. Offer support but allow your people to develop creative ideas and pursue their goals without micromanagement. With employees acting like entrepreneurs within your organization, you’ll move to the next level of success faster and more cost effectively.

7. Offer Feedback

Let your employees know how they are doing and what is happening in the company on a regular basis. Give them the opportunity to voice suggestions, opinions, and complaints. Then listen carefully to their comments. Take fast action so employees understand that they are a valued part of the organization and a voice in its overall success. By doing so, your business will experience higher productivity rates, more creativity, and fewer problems.

8. Celebrate Accomplishments

To grow your business, challenge employees with new projects, opportunities, and the chance to develop their creative ideas. Then, celebrate their accomplishments. Whether it’s the completion of a large project or fixing a small production error, tell your hard workers how much you appreciate their efforts. This enthusiastic environment will significantly help energize and motivate employees, attract top new hires, and even impress customers.

With so many small businesses vying for top candidates nationwide, it can be difficult to find, hire, and hang on to the right people. But with a little extra planning, effort, and care, you can find superstars who will take your small business to new heights and give you an edge over the competition.

Author Bio:
Andrew Field is president and CEO of PrintingForLess.com
(www.printingforless.com), America's first e-commerce print shop, a business that he grew into an $18 million-plus enterprise. Field was named Montana's 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year and was the winner of the 2005 Fortune Small Business and Winning Workplaces Best Boss Award.

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