The talent factor – five tips for hiring (and keeping) good people


By Paul Rattray

One of the biggest headaches of small business is finding (and keeping) the right people.  But with a little planning and forethought, you can make the process easier.

Understand with what you want

1. Be clear about what you want.
First of all, understand what you need. That is, define the role and its responsibilities.

Of course, often in small business, job descriptions and responsibilities tend to be a little more flexible than they are in large companies.

Nevertheless, your job description needs to be clear and concise, so there are no misconceptions when potential employees take an interest in applying.

2. Be your own talent scout.

2. Be your own talent scout.
Think outside the box! You don’t necessarily have to put ads in the paper and hire a recruitment agency.

There are one-hundred-and-one ways you could find the right candidate for your business, so it helps to keep your ear to the ground at all times.

Professional organisations, conferences and word-of-mouth can all improve your candidate search. Don’t forget to embrace the power of social media, too.

3. Interview wisely.

3. Interview wisely.
Your candidate’s CV will tell you what qualifications and experience they have and how they put these to use in other roles with other companies. Yes, this is useful to know.

But you also need to know what makes this person ‘tick’ so make the most of your interview process to find out what drives this person, what they aspire to. Schedule a couple of interviews if necessary, but don’t waste them going over information on the CV – this is information you can verify by contacting the referees.

Assess Cultural Fit

4. Assess cultural fit.
Every team has its own unique culture and your small business is no different. One person’s personality can change the whole dynamic.

And so, while skill and ability are very important, so is a candidate’s ‘fit’ in your business. For this reason, it can help to involve your team in the recruitment process.

If you have a great candidate, take them out for coffee with a couple of other key team members to get their perspective.

5. Know what you’re offering.
Many small business owners get defensive about not being able to pay the same salaries as the big corporations. But there many things that make working in smaller organisations very attractive to potential employees. Be confident in what you’re offering and don’t discount the value of intangibles like flexible working hours, a casual dress policy, onsite parking, and last but not least, job satisfaction.

Most employees want the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the success of the business.

Remember that not all hires work out

6. Remember that not all hires work out.
It is costly, and it can be destabilising when people don’t work out, but the simple fact of the matter is that not all hires are successful, and not all employees stay until retirement.

So, it is important to protect yourself and your employees at all times. Make sure you have employment contracts drawn up with all salaries, bonuses, terms and conditions clearly stated.

If there are any problems with a staff member, then ensure that due process is followed so that their rights are respected and your business is not exposed to risk.

Employment law is a complex area so make sure you get the right advice.

And FYI – if you have a family business, make sure you get the paperwork done, too. Just because you are family or related by marriage doesn’t mean you should put your business at risk by not having employment contracts for everyone involved.

Keeping good staff

7. Keeping good staff.
What is the secret to keeping good people? Actually, the answer is not straightforward, because people want to feel valued, but they are all motivated by different things. One person might just want a simple ‘thank you’ for a job well done, another in the same position may expect a promotion and a pay rise!

The trick is to keep an open dialogue with your employees and check in with them regularly. Maintain good workplace relationships so you know when things are going well for your employees and when they’re under pressure.

Not only will they feel valued if they can talk and you’ll listen, but you’ll get a much better sense of any potential issues on the shop floor – hopefully, long before they cause you problems.

Your employees are your greatest asset, so keep them motivated by asking them what they want and what they need. If they feel like they’re making a contribution that is noticed and appreciated, they’ll be much happier and your workplace will be much more productive overall.