By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Resource Center
While the economic downturn has pushed many small businesses to the edge, it’s also afforded many small business hiring advantages, including attracting top talent and hiring overqualified candidates. In fact, says David Russo, author of 17 Rules Successful Companies Use to Attract and Keep Top Talent and Principal and CEO of Eno River Associates , many small and medium-sized businesses have a real opportunity to in the current economic climate to become heroic, simply by doing a few things well.
In so doing, says Russo, your small business can see dynamic change and forge new growth.
To start, Russo identifies these three elements as essential to your businesses ability to perform:
1) Your product has to be good.
2) There must be a need for that product or service.
3) Your company has to be innovative -- not static -- and willing to grow, develop and evolve.
With those qualities in place, you can then focus your perspective on your talent -- the people who work for you -- and how you hire. Here are six recommendations to keep in mind:
Who you hire is critical. So many small businesses often hire someone they know through an informal network of family and friends. This often means they hire someone they thought would be great -- but in short order, they’re looking to get rid of them. And often the time that it takes to do so is longer than the new hire’s tenure.
Take time to fill the job. Leave the posting open for 3 months and really do due diligence by bringing someone in. Know what outcome you want for the job. Know your company’s environment and the temperament you need to suit your company’s culture. Be sure you clarify -- does the person wants the job that’s advertised --or do they want your job? Many times, small employers don’t ask these questions. They often fail to hire for fit. Remember: fit is as or more important than skills.
Stay competitive. Are you short-changing your company by short-changing your employees? Be sure your compensation is fair enough to diminish other offers that candidates might be given that have a few more perks or dollars.
Hire for growth. Are you creating an environment for this new person to grow and develop? You can do that by listening to their ideas. Be sincere about providing opportunity for growth -- not just management or supervisory -- but experiences that help them grow and develop. Small companies can do that -- they’re not bogged down by large company infrastructure.
Set a high goal. Do you really know what your company wants to be when it grows up? If so, then tell the world. Identify something out there to defeat. “Our job is to ….” Whatever it might be. Make it your company’s Holy Grail. Not that you’ll get there in your lifetime -- just make it a goal that’s fairly static.
As James Collins coined in his book, Built to Last, create a BHAG -- a big hairy audacious goal. Give your employees something to dream about. As you make small chinks in that climb, it gives people an anchor. Lots of small companies can have that advantage.
Be trustworthy. You don’t have to be perfect -- simply be you -- and make sure your behavior is genuine. Be apolitical -- everyone should be able to understand the politics of your business but no one should have to play them.Walk around your place of business and ask employees, “How’s it going? How are you doing? What are you doing?” Show them that you care and that you’re paying attention. Ask if they’re getting the resources they need to do their job. Ask yourself if you’re doing what you should to keep your company’s culture intact. When you ask those questions, people feel that they count -- and that what they DO counts. That’s the magic.