You need to set the scene for staff to perform

Hiring is obviously the first step to gaining great talent. The better our processes, the better the success rate is. I have found entrepreneurs vary in their methods; some swear by psychometric testing – though I have found this to be hugely fallible to liars, cheats and crooks. Others go purely by gut – and there is a certain amount to be said for this, in that at least you will get a good cultural fit. Some have HR people who painstakingly score and re-score and re-matrix, with no gut input at all. 

For me, however, there are some important rules that need to be followed. You need to fit the right people to the right jobs – basic, but true. Clients tell you why they have moved from a previous supplier and your sales people make use of the information – it should be the same with staff. If they tell you they moved because of a lack of job prospects, don’t put them in a dead end role, however good they are! Equally, if you are matrix minded, why not draw up a list of the skills and personality traits of your best staff and shoot for that? 

You need to set the scene for people to perform. Culture and values are important from the start. If you have even one employee who mocks your values internally, others will follow like naughty schoolchildren. A family atmosphere encourages staff retention. Make sure people can do the job – get the induction training right, making it clear that people matter to the company. This means providing the right tools and information systems: it may seem basic but lack of it will cause a brilliant new hire to go job hunting early on. There is nothing wrong in making it clear that poor performers will not be tolerated. It is no fun for the rest of the staff picking up extra work from someone useless. 

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Your managers are absolutely key. Make sure they are very well trained and absolutely in tune with the company’s values. They need to want their people to do well, see them as the valuable resource they are and have an expectation of them doing well. They need a basic understanding of communication with different personality types. They need to resist the temptation to micro manage and foster initiative and personal growth. Policies and procedures are a manager’s job to communicate clearly in order to enable people better. Good managers make for clear reporting lines. 

They need to make it a fun place work – best antidote to stress. It all starts with your managers’ attitudes – the biggest reason staff leave is bad managers. They must have clear and easy ways to measure and manage performance. Staff need to have targets, need to know the expectations on them and get regular feedback on how they are doing.

Communication to all staff, direct or via your managers is key. Most staff find meetings boring so needs to be kept very brief and open and honest and encourage engagement. But for all that a fairly open information policy is vital – employees should want to know where the company is going and what is in it for them, and if they don’t they are not an employee you want to keep. How much financial information you share is personal but the company vision, where it stands in the market place and what the customers think of it, should be vital information of interest to everyone. If you are honest with them, it encourages integrity back.

Rewarding staff should be individual. From the interview and at every appraisal, you should be digging for what they want out of the job, and tailoring a career programme to deliver it. Very few people are solely money based; it can be training, recognition; responsibility, flexible working and work /life balance. Bonuses and rewards are cheaper and more rewarding than higher basic wages. Not everyone is interested in training but for those who are, consider cheaper on-line courses, employees cross teaching, one day workshops and encourage trade association membership and sharing ideas.

Rewards should be particularly aimed at those you least want to leave. So if you have hired a top performer, they will be particularly prone to moving. One of the next key issues is to keep them challenged. Not everyone wants public praise but some do. And everyone wants to be happy at work. And as you would with your customers, ask your staff why they want to work for you and what you can do better.

Meanwhile, according to columnist Charlie Mullins, more madness has descended the City where the “crooks in suits” are going stir crazy in “their ivory towers” swapping their pin stripes for polo shirts.

Image: Shutterstock

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