Business managers and owners are quick to say that “My employees are my greatest asset.” And while that is absolutely true, your employees can also be your greatest point of vulnerability. Once a business begins to grow, finding great employees and creating high-performance teams becomes a high priority. So consider a few of these ideas when looking at the way you hire for your business.
1. Be a full-time talent scout. Great companies and businesses are built day in and day out by cultivating prospective employees. Never wait until one of your current employees leaves to think about looking for a replacement. If so, you are behind the curve and from time to time may settle for less. Always be on the lookout for bright, capable people wherever to go. You’ll be surprised at how many you find when you are not in crisis mode.
2. Hire the best. Great teams are built on talent, potential and fit. As the manager of the team, look for ways to hire people with complementary skills and experiences. And since the team is always changing and growing, your job is to put the very best team on the field every day.
3. Grow your own. While certain members of your staff are required to have technical or professional experience, many do not. What matters most are those traits, which include intelligence, curiosity, high personal expectations, energy and enthusiasm for success. With these talents we can often provide the training. It’s much harder to create enthusiasm or make someone more curious.
4. Create your own culture. Company culture is simply the collective personality of the team. A company’s culture always emerges — and sometimes it is not the one that leads to high performance or one that is aligned with your expectations. As a business owner, you can shape the culture of your company by recruiting individuals who share your values for customer service, expectations for quality and thrive on achieving team goals.
5. Know when to say goodbye. Sometimes in the lifecycle of a business, we reach a point when expectations and reality don’t match. For a few it can be a good thing — such as when a great employee has outgrown what your company can offer. The best bosses create opportunities for staff to succeed, even if that means moving on. Other times the company may outgrow a team member. Again, great bosses take responsibility for finding the right spot on the team, perhaps investing in training to assist the team member in acquiring new skills — or in certain situations, making a commitment to help the employee find a better fit outside the company. Regardless, take control of the situation and address the gap between expectations and performance.
Building your “greatest assets” takes hard work, constant tending and active management. Your investment in building high performance teams through thoughtful leadership will pay dividends for your business and for your employees for years to come.
Kurt Corbin is the assistant state director of the Hawaii Small Business Development Center, a program of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Questions and comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.