Where there is frustration there is opportunity.
Some of the best workers in any industry leave large companies because they’re frustrated. They’re frustrated with more than a few things.
I guess it’s not fair to say that it’s just large companies that are struggling when it comes to attracting and keeping the best employees. In fact, larger companies would seem to have an advantage. They do, after all, have more money than small businesses and money is a pretty big motivator for attracting the right people.
And it’s not just about money. I remember a few years ago that Brett Favre said it wasn’t about being paid the most for the sake of the money. He had already earned plenty in his career. What he was saying was that what he was paid was a reflection of how the team valued him.
When people feel respected, valued and needed they do great work. They appreciate where they are.
When employees become frustrated it’s an opportunity for small businesses to step in.
Here are some of the ways your small business can attract the best employees.
1. Vision, Core Values
This is a big one. The best employees want compensation and we’ll get to that later.
But employees want to be part of something. It’s inherent in human nature. You see it often in the NFL. Money is obviously important, but the players that love football the most want to be part of the best teams.
After struggling with two teams early in his career, Jared Cook wanted to be part of something better. He found that with the Green Bay Packers. Now he doesn’t want to leave.
Success begins with vision and core values. You need the right people on the bus as Jim Collins says.
Vision and core values are why your company exists. It’s a discovery process that entrepreneurs need to go through if they want to attract the best people for their business.
If you can’t communicate why you exist then you’ll struggle to attract the best people for your team.
Where are you going and why are you going there?
What do you stand for and why do you stand for it?
2. Development, Opportunity For Growth
Having a clear career path for your new hires is appealing. Many employees grow frustrated when they’re not sure how they can develop within a company.
Some of the most successful companies in history have created clear career paths and opportunities for growth. It’s building from within. GE has been one of the best in this area, but there are many others.
GE has actually found success keeping its best talent even when the company has become top heavy. Let’s say you have a handful of people that reach the top of the ladder at the same time. Only one can be CEO. What do you do with the other four? GE, in the past, has been able to expand into other industries and they’ve been able to keep their best people.
However, GE’s top talent has been sought after by outside companies and they do lose those at the top.
But it rarely affects GE because they have such a great pipeline of talent because they hire at the bottom and offer an incredible opportunity for employees to develop.
There’s no reason a small business can’t offer the same opportunity.
3. Flexibility, Autonomy
Nobody likes being micromanaged. Well, let me walk that back. I guess I can’t say that all people dislike it, but I can’t imagine that many do.
There are quotes from successful managers where they talk about bringing in the right people, providing vision and then getting out of the way.
It’s especially true today when location isn’t as important has it’s been in the past. There are more remote businesses. The typical 9-5 job still exists and makes sense, but more employees are pushing for flexibility in their jobs. Maybe they want to work later hours.
Maybe they want to work earlier. Or maybe they just want to be able to set their schedule however they want.
As long as you’re able to create goals together along with ways to measure progress then there’s no need to deny flexibility.
4. When Hiring, Ask Your Team First
Who knows your company the best?
You and your team.
You know your core values. You and your team know what goes into the day-to-day operations.
When you’re looking to hire new people go to your team first and ask if they know anyone looking for a job. Your team has family, friends and colleagues that they have spent time with. That’s a valuable resource because you can learn about people on resumes and in interviews, but that doesn’t equate to a trusted employee of yours telling you that they recommend someone.
And it works the other way too. If your employees love working for you then they’re going to champion your company to people they know including the best potential workers.
This is a way that a small business can poach the best employees from bigger firms.
One of the things that keeps popping up in employee surveys is that they want to feel like they can engage with their boss. They don’t want the boss to be in the background all the time.
Engage can mean a lot of things and they’re all probably important.
- To ask questions
- To hear feedback
- To have conversations about work and life
- And more
Engage with your employees. I had a great CEO that would walk around the office once a month or so and spend a few minutes with individual employees. It was a small thing, but it made you feel like he was engaged.
The Green Bay Packers went through a rough patch losing four games in the 2016 season. Then they turned things around and won the last six games to win their division.
One thing the players said after turning things around was that their coach, Mike McCarthy, remained positive throughout the good and the bad. He was consistent and positive. He reminded them that they were good.
Everybody knew what the negative was. They focused on it. They corrected things. But they also didn’t lose their positivity.
That’s important. People are attracted to positive atmospheres. Nobody wants to live in a negative world where people complain and hold pity parties.
I just mentioned consistency with the Packers. And I know I’ve mentioned it in past posts about leadership, management or life in general.
I’ll stick with the Packers and lately Aaron Rodgers has been talking about trusting his receivers. One thing he values is consistency. Obviously talent is important, but Rodgers wants players that can raise their level of consistency. Minimize mistakes. Being in the right place at the right time.
When people can rely on you to be the same person it’s one less thing for them to worry about. When they know how you’ll react it puts their mind at ease.
Nobody likes working for a hot head that can fly off the handle. Nobody likes coming into work and being surprised.
Consistent. Steady. Reliable. Whatever you call it, it’s appealing to the best people.
8. Commitment, Discipline
It’s easy to say things. It’s easy to say that you want to create a culture for success. It’s easy to follow your own guidelines when things are going well.
But how committed are you to a plan when things are going bad?
Are you disciplined enough to make a decision that’s true to your core values when the pressure is really on?
It’s not easy. I would say that not many people can stand that kind of pressure and it’s another opportunity for you to attract the best people.
The moment a leader loses discipline their employees will be there and thinking that the leader is a hypocrite. It’s difficult to come back from something like that.
Leaders need to hold themselves accountable, but the point here is that employees want to see accountability throughout the organization including for themselves.
We want to be treated fairly. People don’t like double standards.
People also don’t like when others are allowed to conduct business without being held accountable. Those that hold themselves accountable are frustrated when others don’t hold the same values.
Finally, money is important when it comes to hiring the best. That’s tough for some small businesses. You really need capital to be able to afford the best, but that might require doing without some resources if you want people to be a top priority.
Maybe you forego an office in order to hire the best remote team possible. Maybe you forego 100% ownership in favor of offering your best employees a stake in the company.
People like money, but they also know that money is a form of showing respect and value. People want to know that they’re valued. They go where they are valued the most.
I’m definitely not saying that these ten things will make it easy for you to attract the best talent to your small business. But if you look at companies that have gone from small times to big successes I think you’ll find patterns that include the elements above.
The more you can make these things part of the core of your business the more I think you’ll be able to attract the best people and over time that can lead to success for your company.