As any CEO, president or business owner will most likely agree: In today’s business world finding and retaining good employees is one of the most important elements in operating a successful business. It can very often mean the difference between a successful, profitable company and bankruptcy. After all, your employees are your company. They are the ones ensuring orders are filled, projects are completed, sales calls are made and products or services are delivered on time. To your customers, your employees are the face of your company. That’s why cultivating your workforce is a powerful competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
Unfortunately, finding and properly training those critical employees can also be one of the most difficult challenges facing business leaders. According to recent government estimates, the problem potentially could get much worse. Reports from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor predict employers can expect a 10 million-worker shortfall over the next century which means competition for good employees will be intense.
In such a competitive business environment, how can you cultivate your workforce to thrive and also help your company prosper?
As a strategist and advisor to CEOs, presidents and business owners across a wide variety of industries, business profit is always a key and ongoing discussion. Remember: You are in business to make a profit. Without profit, your business cannot survive. Your employees will not have jobs because the company will not exist.
To create a powerful workforce as a competitive advantage essentially involves two critical steps:
- First, as the company leader you must take the time to ensure the very best candidate is hired for the any open position. The worst action you can take is to hire out of desperation just to fill a job opening. The outcome could cost you more than if you left the position open till you found the right person.
- Second, you a must invest the time to ensure workers are thoroughly trained and have access to the critical resources needed to perform their jobs properly on an ongoing basis. Remember: Business is about people.
Should either of these key components be overlooked the job will not be performed properly, the frustrated employee will move on to a new employer, and the entire cycle will begin again. Only leaving you more frustrated with the business not being as successful as it potentially can be.
Many CEOs, presidents and business owners are reluctant to invest the time necessary to find and train the most effective employee possible, claiming, “I haven’t got time for that. I need someone now.” Or: “Need someone who can hit the ground running.”
The truth, however, is you have a choice to make:
- Invest the necessary time and resources to identify and properly train the best candidate for the position.
- If not, expect to suffer through the endless cycle of employees coming and going with precious resources wasted away on turnover. Of course the company will ultimately pay the price as customers weary of dealing with one unqualified or poorly trained worker after another choose instead to take their business elsewhere.
Creating a powerful workforce and company culture where employees are both productive and satisfied begins long before the first resume submission even lands on anyone’s desk or computer screen.
In fact, a productive workforce begins with a thorough analysis of what, exactly, the job entails, and what skills, specifically, will be most valuable to the organization. Although many business people are tempted to skip this time-consuming step, it is impossible to find the right addition to your company if you don’t truly understand the job responsibilities associated with, and resources targeted for, the position.
The first step toward finding the right employee is to develop an detailed job description for the position. Consider what, exactly, will be the employee’s duties and responsibilities. The job description should be as thorough as possible to help you correctly identify the most important skills associated with the position.
If, for example, you are hiring an employee for the sales department, it is critical that you understand and have a very clear picture of exactly how the sales department operates – how leads are generated, how sales are closed. True, you are hiring the employee to do the job; however, without the experience that only comes from doing the job yourself, you can’t as effectively gauge what skills are necessary to perform the job properly.
Next, since it is your company you need to learn how to conduct job interviews whether it’s for an assistant, an entry level position or a senior management spot. It’s not enough to simply look over a resume, ask a few questions and consider the process complete. After all, the new employee is presumably being hired because the company cannot move forward without his or her expertise.
Successful CEOs, presidents and business owners have learned how to conduct interviews to uncover priceless insights into character, attitude and potential productivity. Finding the right employee for the job goes beyond skills, talent and education. It can mean the difference between the right employee who helps you grow your business or just another temporary worker in a permanent job role.
For example, when interviewing prospective employees, most hiring authorities do not explore or candidly discuss with the candidate the corporate culture, the current work environment or the candidate’s expectations. Often people come into new jobs only to find out that it is not what they had expected – either with the people they work with, the hours expected of them, the work load, or the company’s style of management.
In addition, a new employee has much to adjust to, especially if there is also a relocation involved. Without realistic expectations of the company and its work environment, the employee can burn out quickly, not perform up to company standards or be looking for another new position within the first few months, an extremely costly proposition.
Losing an employee costs a company thousands of dollars not only in lost productivity but also in recruitment and training costs. Hiring smart and ensuring each party understands the expectations of the other is critical to ensure a new employee is productive and the professional relationship a success from the very start.
You must thoroughly consider a number of other issues surrounding the open job position as well. Obviously, compensation will be critical. You should have an idea of comparable salary ranges at other organizations for the same level position. You need also have a clear picture of the legal environment, including state and federal policies on everything from discrimination to workplace injury and payment for jury duty. After all, the time to find out what is required of your company is now, not after you’ve violated the law and face serious consequences and penalties.
When you are finally ready to begin considering specific candidates, this is where many CEOs, presidents and business owners make their biggest mistake. Unfortunately, all too often a new employee comes on board with the company because he or she “seems to fit in”, appears well-suited to the job, and generally poses no threat whatsoever to your leadership status. But if the company is to grow it is critical the employee ultimately hired is unquestionably the very best person possible for the job. True, the employee does need to fit into the workforce. But it is also important the company hire the very smartest and highly skilled candidate possible with the right attitude and mindset. Rather than being intimidated by such candidates, the right combination of skill, attitude and brilliance is a rare opportunity to tap into a powerful resource that translates into a vital competitive advantage for the company. Surround yourself with the best and brightest you can find.
Once the right employee is chosen, it is important to establish specific goals and incentives attached to the job description and employee performance. In addition, a probationary period can be a valuable tool as each party evaluates if the relationship is a good match on both sides between employer and employee.
Now, after all the work creating the job description, perfecting your interview skills and selecting the very best candidate possible, you may think it’s time to put the entire process behind you. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The smartest and most highly skilled workers will almost surely fail without established goals and a thorough, on-going training process.
Now is the time to coach the new employee on each component of the job to ensure he or she truly understands how the company operates and how to perform his or her job properly. For example, if the new employee in charge of the sales department:
- Does he/she truly understand how the sales team generates leads, makes sales calls and closes sales?
- Does he/she understand that the sales department is the life-blood for the entire company, fueling each employee’s salary, bonuses and job security?
- Or does he/she only have a vague idea about the entire process?
In such a situation, fully understanding the department can mean the difference between a powerful and motivated sales team adding to the bottom line; or a floundering, confused sales department working ineffectively, wasting precious time and losing prime opportunities for new business. Companies today cannot afford to lose business. Period.
Creating a work environment where employees are productive and content is one of the most challenging components of running a business. Yet the rewards to your business certainly speak for themselves. Recent studies estimate it costs three times more to replace an employee than to keep an existing one happy, and the benefits of a highly content and productive workforce are immeasurable.
Think carefully about your workforce; current and future. Find the right employees and identify the right resources you can invest in to guarantee employees are properly trained and content with their positions. Companies that correctly manage the human resource process and truly create a partnership with their employees have an extraordinarily powerful competitive advantage. It can lead your company on the path to MORE business success and profit. Where business goals and dreams come true for you, your employees and your customers.
To your success!
Business expert and strategist, Howard Lewinter, guides – focuses – advises CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States to MORE success – MORE profit – less stress. Business problems? Business issues? Get MORE from your business! Talk business with Howard: 888-738-1855.