The smaller your organization, the more important each person in it becomes. Think a moment – what would happen if you just lost $5,000 or $10,000 tomorrow? Yet hiring and retaining the wrong person can easily cost you that in lost opportunities or time or energy quite quickly.
So, how do you ensure your staff are terrific assets?
Start with your hiring process. New companies often hire family and friends because they are ‘comfortable’ with such people. Small organizations often think of people as an expense to be minimized, rather than an investment in your success and future.
Look carefully at how you design a new job and hire for it. You do not need an elaborate job description or expensive search process. You do need to be very clear about the work that needs to be done and the experience, attitude, and knowledge actually needed to do it well. Where will you find such a person? How will you know? What will you pay for?
Many of us lose valuable employee productivity from the start, through bad assumptions and poor planning. Your new hire checklist – mental or written – probably focuses on things like keys and payroll and forms.
What you need is a new hire checklist that ensures you:
1. Reinforce why you hired the person: say what you saw in their experience, attitude, and knowledge which demonstrated their value to your organization.
2. Explain the basics of ‘how we work here’. What are your organization’s common habits and practices that a new person needs to know?
3. Define your vision and goals and relate to the person’s specific job.
4. Set the standards for behavior and high performance at the beginning. Have the materials and equipment each needs and someone to train them on any company specific processes. Be clear in explaining what the person needs to know to successfully do the job. State your expectations in terms of daily activities or weekly accomplishments. What goals do you want achieved in the first 3 months? 6 months? What standards does the person need to meet? Do you expect all calls/email to be answered within one business day? All customers to be greeted when they enter your store? Be clear about all those details.
5. Talk about how you like to work. If you expect employees to bring up problems immediately, say so. If you want them to try to solve the problem first or bring you a proposed solution, tell them. Do you do a weekly staff meeting or scheduled individual meetings? Do you prefer written or oral reports? Are you calm and deliberative? Creative and outgoing? Tell new people.
Not there with current employees?
You can change. Define your own processes and expectations and clearly communicate them to existing staff. Then, as you grow, do so with each new hire too.
Now, of course, the reason this does not happen all the time is that many of us expect others to know and understand our goals and standards. Magically, without our having to do the work ourselves to clearly define and articulate them! So your own performance is the first person’s to sort out.
But the value of doing so is an immediate boost to productivity and performance in your organization. Your staff will know how to succeed and how to help the organization succeed.
Patricia Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker and author on human capital issues. Ms. Frame founded Strategies for Human Resources in 1993 as a consulting firm specializing in meeting the human resources needs of small to mid-size organizations.