Managing People Risk

Successful owners know how to recruit and retain people. Failing to recruit, recruiting the wrong individual or failing to retain the best talent are situations which can set a new business back for months, stifle or even end its growth.

For a new business, recruiting new people is a challenge as you are not necessarily known, represent something of a risk on the employee’s part and are unlikely to have a huge purse to tempt people on-board.

This challenge can also be something of a blessing in disguise, though. If you’re not offering prospective employees fame and fortune (at least, not immediately) you’re effectively ‘weeding out’ some of those who might be self-seeking ‘wrong’ types.

Creating a company that does something interesting is a realistic and successful incentive that new businesses can employ to attract the ‘right’ sort. If you’re doing something new, big, different, exciting or all of the above, other people should want to be a part of it.

Creating an incentive for them to want to join is an incentive for you to think about the nature of your business – not just what you do but how you do it. In order to recruit the ‘right’ people for you, you have to be clear about the values and culture of your business from day one.

This focus on culture should be retained throughout the recruitment process. Some businesses conduct ‘blind’ interviews, assessing the person before looking at their CV. Great if you’re looking for a flexible, adaptable new pair of hands’; less useful if your culture is built around subject matter experts.

As for retaining talent, it is important to provide employees with ownership, engagement and opportunities. Some feel that it’s something of a catch-22, as by investing in employees you may bolster their CV and increase the chances of them looing to work elsewhere, but not involving them can be equally likely to lead to their departure. There is also the third possibility, summed up by the maxim – what if we invest in employees and they leave – what if we don’t and they stay?

Open communication is essential for integrating employees into a business and helping them to ‘buy in’ to the culture and framework, as is providing them with opportunities for growth and development. Training is another expense, but it’s less expensive than ignorance or the empty space left should they choose to depart.

There is no universal approach to recruiting and retaining people, but successful owners achieve it by being absolutely clear about their own approach and communicating this approach right from the start. When it comes to finding and keeping people, clarity, openness and honesty are the best policies.

What if we train them and they leave? What if we don’t train them and they stay?

Training is Expensive – How much more expensive is ignorance?


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