For SMEs and growing businesses, people can create the greatest value for a company, but can also present the greatest risks.Last Friday, at The Caledonian Club in London, the Building British Business initiative addressed the ever-persistent “people” issue – how to find, hire and retain the best people. Following the event, I’ve put together my top five tips for SMEs to manage talent. (1) Clarity Be clear with your job description, but be flexible. Identify the passion and skill set of your staff and acknowledge that they may be better off in a certain role. As an owner of a small business it is vital to tap into the energy and talent on offer, as you never know what you may find. (2) Community If you want to find out who is around to hire, start a community. This paid off for my contact Juliana Meyer, owner of Superpass, a music streaming platform which connects artists to their fans. Juliana created a community in Norwich which is a rich hub of technical development, giving herself a great candidate pool when she needed to recruit. (3) Leadership Company directors must always be involved in the recruitment process. If a key member of the board doesn’t meet a candidate at junior level, the wrong people may slip through. I personally have my own “Spirit of Caxton” interview and believe that at least three interviews are necessary before making a decision. (4) Test Give all potential candidates a writing test. Regardless of your industry, this will eliminate the problem of those who cannot express themselves to clients and colleagues over email, and will also deal with bad grammar and spelling offenders. (5) Fail fast Fail Fast. If it’s not right, it is vital to remove unproductive people as soon as their lack of productivity becomes obvious. This can be difficult to spot from a management perspective but is essential in ensuring that your business can move forward. Finally, in the words of Guy Hayward from Goodman Masson, the most important thing businesses can do to retain their staff is to “ensure you create an environment where people don’t want to leave.” Jane Emma Peerless is founder of Building British Business and director of people at Caxton FX.
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