People are usually the key to the success and growth of a business. Most business owners have very high hopes for the people they hire. However, most owners have also been amazed to watch the transformation of some of these employees from motivated go-getters to drifting, lackadaisical annoyances!
Why does this seem to happen to a large percentage of the work force? We can attribute some of that to a lack of ambition, personal issues, or an unpleasant personality. But the majority may actually be a reflection of our own lack of dedication to developing their better qualities. Business owners ask:
- Why do people seem to care so little about their career?
- What does it take to keep a person personally involved and in the game?
- How do I figure out who is the right person for the job?
A Matter of Mindset
A mindset is a “filter” that highlights some information, ignores other information, and changes how each person interprets the environment around them.
To motivate employees striving for personal fulfillment in a team environment, it is necessary to transform their attitude from an “I don’t care” employee mindset, to a partnership mindset. For most employees, personal contribution and a sense of belonging and being needed are fundamental pillars that lead to maximum performance.
The willingness to trust others with your vision for the company will demonstrate to them that you are indeed interested in them and that you are all “in it together.”
Many small business owners, however, believe that employees should think like they think, see what they see, and hear what they hear. Unfortunately, most small businesses are run by entrepreneurs, and they are a rare breed! Every person approaches work (and the world) with a mindset developed over many years – built of experiences both good and bad. Each person, therefore, may react and respond differently to another person, both having received identical information from the world around them.
For example, the owner is willing to leave only when all of the customers are taken care of. An employee, on the other hand, may want to leave at the designated time. Many employment conflicts are caused by this difference in how people view various situations. Conflicts become much easier to resolve if we can see the different mindsets at work within a conflict.
In any business, the professional mindset puts the customer first. Everything is done from a customer-centric perspective. Employees seek better ways to serve the customer rather than seeking only to enhance their own well-being. They are good listeners, responsive, and give customers the confidence to make a decision and move forward. The professional mindset grows out of personal integrity and a sense of partnership between the company, the employee, and the customer. When the business owner can train each employee toward a professional mindset, the business will prosper.
A highly functioning team requires people of diverse mindset and diverse skills. We can miss hiring the right people if we hire only those like ourselves. We should try to find people who can offset our own weaknesses. In building a team, we most actually counter our natural tendencies and learn to judge the talents of others as compared to the job, rather than compared to ourselves. That process necessitates a thorough understanding of the workflow needed to complete a task, the building of job descriptions that cover each step of that workflow, and hiring people to complete those tasks. And it isn’t finished there! Next comes training those people in the necessary tasks, holding them accountable for completing the tasks, and building the team interactions that lace all of those tasks and skills together.
A top performance environment starts with people taking responsibly because they desire to be part of a high performance team. In terms of management, this desire is often accomplished through effective delegation by the business owner. Many business owners are trapped by the restrictive thinking that they are the best at everything that is done in the business. It some cases, it might even be true. But, continuing to fill your day with some of these activities may be preventing you from doing things that more directly and significantly impact the sales and growth of the company.
In order to grow you must build a team that can function without your direct oversight and management of every job. This process does not happen overnight but develops as team leaders begin to step forward with a willingness to take on more responsibility. It can take months or years for you to develop a maximum performance team to support you. It takes time for the changes and attitude adjustments to take root, but the payoff is that you will personally move to a new level of accomplishment, as will each person to whom you’ve delegated responsibility.
Finding the best and brightest for your team will require time, attention, and skill. As a small business owner, you probably find yourself working in the business most days, rather than on the business. And since you spend most of your time doing what you do best, it may be frustrating and uncomfortable to go through the process of hiring new employees.
If your business is large enough, you may have a human resources person who will take care of most of the preliminary work on your behalf, with a hiring decision made by whoever will directly supervise the new hire. Many (perhaps most) small businesses, however, don’t have those resources, and the hiring is done directly by the business owner.
When you’re ready to begin recruiting, you should first engage your personal network. Talk to friends, colleagues, (and maybe even competitors), and let them know you’re looking for a new employee, and what type of candidate would fit well with your organization. Utilize social media. It’s a fast, inexpensive (or free) means of spreading the word and finding that rare gem who “knows someone who knows someone.”
Remember that the brightest person for the position may possess technical skills, but may not be a good fit for the firm’s culture or adaptable to the pace or style in which the firm conducts business. They may not be a good fit for the high-performance team already in place. Focus on a good fit in all these areas. The right people are out there, but you may have to “kiss a lot of frogs” to get to the “handsome prince!”