Building your small business team is always challenging – but even more so in 2022. You may not be able to control the overarching uncertainty and worker shortages. But you can make sure your hiring and onboarding practices are in order. Here are tips from members of the online small business community for building a solid small business team.
Welcome New Hires
Once you find the right people to hire, it’s time to make them feel like part of the team. The right welcoming strategy can help them collaborate more effectively and work more productively. Mandy Caruso of ClickUp shares tips for welcoming new hires here.
Re-Open Workplaces Safely with Hybrid Models
Many offices are starting to reopen. But there are still many safety concerns. Luckily, hybrid work models offer some flexibility and safety benefits, while still bringing some workers back in person. Harry and Sally Vaishnav go over the benefits in this Small Biz Viewpoints post.
Consider These Factors in Changing Professions
There are many reasons why people choose to change professions. This isn’t just relevant for job seekers. It may also be relevant to business owners looking to hire those professionals. Get some insights from this post by Lisa Sicard of Inspire to Thrive. Then see what BizSugar members are saying here.
Reduce New Hire Churn
Constantly hiring and replacing employees can put a huge strain on your HR and leadership team. So it’s in your best interest to keep employees for as long as possible. To reduce new hire churn, check out this post by Grace Donaldson of Process Street for tips.
Prepare Before Expanding to Another State
Expanding a small business requires growing a team, researching a new market, and completing lots of paperwork. Going into a new state may even require some specific legal steps. Nellie Akalp goes over specifics in this CorpNet post.
Create Repeatable Processes with Great People
Part of the reason an amazing team can help your business get more done is the ability to create processes. Repeatable tasks provide more efficiency within teams. To learn more about this concept for teams, read this Startup Professionals Musings post by Marty Zwilling.
Ensure a Happy and Comfortable Workplace
Happy employees tend to get more done. While you cannot ensure that everyone on your team is satisfied in their personal life, you can provide a comfortable workplace. This Platter of Gold post by Anthony Williams includes tips for doing just that.
Deliver the Best Customer Experience
Hiring the right people for your customer service team can dramatically impact the experience. But this is just one aspect of improving the customer journey. Learn more in this Noobpreneur post by Ivan Widjaya. Then head to the BizSugar community to see what members are saying.
Find the Best Tax Deductions for Your Business
The tax deductions you can take depend on the structure of your business. If you’re self-employed, you’re likely the only official team member in your business. But there are still opportunities to save during tax season. Tim Parker of ZenBusiness lists options in this post.
Acknowledge Employee Burnout
So many workers have felt burned out over the past few years – perhaps none more than those in healthcare. Even if you don’t run a healthcare business, it’s important to notice and address when your employees have reached their limit. Lauren Galli shares an employee’s perspective in this Strella Social Media post.
Employees are interested in professional development, and organizations want to hire and develop employees who can step into leadership roles. But where's the disconnect? What do organizations need to do to make the corporate ladder climbable?
Here are some specific steps that employers can take to build their leadership pipeline while offering opportunities shown to increase employee engagement, productivity and longevity.
A look at the research
According to Gartner research, more than half of employees indicate that it’s important for their employers to offer real opportunities for personal growth.
Employers benefit as well. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) indicates that when organizations offer comprehensive training, they experience a profit margin 24% higher than those that spend less time on training and development activities.
These efforts can also help in building the kind of diversity in leadership ranks that so many companies — and their customers and employees — value today.
Positive impact on diversity
Being proactive in coming up with ways to lay the foundation for employee development and growth can go a long way toward addressing the lack of diversity in senior leadership positions. This is true all the way to board seats.
It’s well-known that the leadership pipeline can be a rate-limiting factor for upward growth if that pipeline is populated primarily by traditional stereotypes. And yet, at many organizations, that continues to be the case. It's not necessarily because of anything these organizations have willfully done to keep persons of a diverse background out of the pipeline, but more because of what many have not done — proactively taken steps to ensure that typically underrepresented groups of employees are getting the training, development and coaching support to move into higher-level roles.
Here are some ways organizations can invest in making the corporate ladder climbable while paving the way for greater leadership diversity.
Help managers develop coaching skills
Don’t assume that your managers are all adept at and comfortable with coaching employees and helping them grow and develop to move into higher-level positions. Many aren’t. But you can help to provide the tools, training and resources to help them serve in this very important role.
As part of this training, teach managers how to work with employees to develop personal development plans (PDPs) as part of the performance management process.
Encourage both upskilling and reskilling
Not every employee will be interested in moving up the proverbial ladder. And, let’s face it, most organizations have very limited opportunities for employees who may be interested to move into higher-level roles. That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t or shouldn’t pursue opportunities to learn new skills that might prepare them for other lateral, or even lower-level, positions within your organization.
In today’s fast-paced and continually changing environment, the need for new skills is apparent in organizations of all kinds. Upskilling can provide as much value for meeting employee development needs for some employees as preparing them to move into other roles.
Many companies already know this. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2021 Workforce Learning Report indicated that 59% of respondents say that upskilling and reskilling initiatives were their top priority in 2021.
Provide leadership opportunities
Leadership opportunities don’t need to be limited to those that involve supervising or managing others. The ability to lead a committee, task force or project team can offer a valuable leadership opportunity for employees while offering a way to evaluate employee competencies and potential to serve in more formal leadership roles.
Develop a role for career development coaches Managers and supervisors aren’t the only members of your staff who can play a role in coaching employees in their career choices and preparation for new roles. Your HR leaders and staff members can also play a role here, as can learning and development staff. In fact, having dedicated, go-to career coaches on staff can provide valuable resources to both employees and managers.
Serving in this role can provide a great professional opportunity development for employees, helping them develop a key management skill that, as we’ve seen, is often lacking.
Offer tuition and certification reimbursement
If you don’t already, consider offering tuition and certification reimbursement to allow employees to attend college classes or other training programs they may be interested in. Organizations can gain tax benefits from offering reimbursement, making this a win-win in more ways than one.
As employees develop their skills, they become more valuable to their employers. It’s an investment that can pay off in multiple ways, including allowing employees to level up in their current positions.
These are just a few of the most effective ways to help your employees climb the corporate ladder — if that’s what they want to do. And even if they don’t, providing support and resources to help them develop desired personal and professional skills can pay big dividends — for them, and for you.
If you’re an entrepreneur like me, the scenario of employees asking for a pay raise sounds familiar right? Well, the complete opposite happened to me right when Covid-19 hit.
It wasn’t just one or two employees. It was a line-up of employees asking for a pay deduction. Right outside my office in the morning!
Grateful yet shocked, I asked, “Why would you do that?”
“We don’t need the money as much as some of these people do,” they said firmly.
They just wanted to make sure that all employees had enough to pay their bills and that the business would stay strong through the pandemic.
That wasn’t just a moving moment for me. It’s a leadership lesson that I’ll never forget as the founder of a 400-employee, $100M+ business:
Culture is at the heart of your business.
Now, I know that culture is often thrown around as a buzzword. Here’s how I define culture: Show people that you care. Show them that there's love. That you’re looking out for them. That you will go out of your way to help them.
Want to show your employees that you care? Here are a few of our tested and proven ways.
1. Pay 10% better than your competitors.
I learned the 10% rule from a multimillionaire who owns car dealerships, an industry that has a high turnover rate. That’s how he has attracted amazing people to work with him and stay with him. Now, why is that important? Based on our years of hiring and training, we’ve found that great employees get more done and become advocates for your business.
Here’s the thing: A-players have loads of options. They are usually in a job they’re happy with and/or they have a few offers on the backburner.
The most direct way to show that you mean serious business is paying above market rate, or better than your competitors. People want to know that you acknowledge them for the quality of their work or talents. As I’m writing this article, I verified this with Adam, my COO: We actually pay more than 10%, and it goes way up for high achievers who want to increase their income (with performance pay and incentives.)
2. Forget about meetings. Do 1-on-1s with your employees instead.
Team meetings still have their place. But the real winner for me has been 1-on-1 sessions with our employees. Even with 400 employees, I still do 1-on-1s! It’s how you connect with your people on a much deeper level.
I’m currently planning to take an hour each day to reach out to 15 employees — roughly 75 calls per week — so that I can celebrate them for their work. It’s as simple as saying “I’ve only got three minutes, but I just want to let you know that this stuff that you’re doing is standing out to me!”
Of course, this needs to be a company-wide effort. Every month, we do 1-on-1 goal-setting sessions, so that we make sure each employee is performing according to their KPIs and has the support they need to succeed.
Now, how do you do this systematically as your business scales like ours? You don’t need a U.S. memory champion’s brain. You just need a CRM to keep track of employee performance.
3. Focus on continuous training, not just one-time training.
Most companies train their new hires intensively for the first week to a month and then they just leave their hires to figure things out. In other words, they do sporadic or, worse still, zero training.
And that’s a tragedy! Why? Having trained several hundred technicians who have made thousands of sales, here’s why I put so much importance on continuous training: The better you train, the less likely fires will happen in your business, and the longer your best employees will stay. And remember, it costs a lot more money to hire a new employee than to keep an existing one. Especially if they are an A-player!
To train your employees continuously, here’s what you can offer:
• Operating manuals and checklists: These go hand-in-hand to make sure that your employees know what to do and how to do things every single time. If you want to scale, your entire business needs to be able to deliver quality consistently.
• Group training sessions: Every morning, we do what we call a Morning Mojo call, where we align on priorities, roleplay different sales strategies and celebrate wins as a team.
For your employees, paying better, doing 1-on-1s and continuous training all point toward one thing: recognition.
Culture is ultimately about creating a structure for your employees to succeed and to be recognized for their successes. Every single day!
After all, most of us spend over eight hours a day at work. We might as well work with people who genuinely care about us.
And that’s what I said to my employees that day: “We’re gonna make it through this. We’re a family. We’re gonna stick together.”
How do you keep your employees safe and happy while also keeping customers satisfied and your business thriving? Here are key guidelines.
Many leaders are concerned about workers' "great resignation" in every industry and at every level, from hospitality and restaurant staff to corporate workers still absent from their physical workplaces. In addition, as a result of the current health crisis, employees are reexamining their priorities and leaving jobs that don't meet those needs.
However, it's very likely this shift was always meant to happen, given the pace of technological development is reshaping what our workplace looks like. Consider how different work today is from the workplace of 50 years ago. The workplace as we know it is changing beyond the point of return – this isn't the first time and it won't be the last time leadership faces employment crises on a massive scale.
As leaders consider the future of work, even as the current health crisis faces escalated threats in the coming months, how do you keep your employees safe and happy while keeping customers satisfied and your business thriving? Based on my nearly 30 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, here are several guidelines I think will be key:
1. Listen and take care of your people and their families
Your employees are the front lines of your business, regardless of sector or industry. Especially in times of crisis or change, focus on taking care of your people first. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your clients, which will take care of your top business needs.
For example, Silicon Valley companies created campuses with full amenities to encourage employees to feel at home at the office and stay more focused on work. In the context of the current health crisis, this could mean leaders plan for new in-office resources and safety measures or provide childcare resources for employees who are parents and who may have a more challenging time finding childcare. My team sponsored a vaccination clinic for employees and their families at our office in India when vaccine access was a challenge, and we found that this was extremely effective in uniting and reenergizing our staff.
Employee care can mean something different at every company, so survey your teams to get feedback on their current needs, whether it's bonuses, flexible office setups, various technology tools, or more perks.
Early surveys and studies show clear generational differentiators that dictate employees' desires for their future workplace. For example, a June survey from The Conference Board found that 55% of millennial workers question the wisdom of returning to the office, a more significant proportion than older generations.
A clear trend is emerging: Older employees are excited to get back into the office and return to their familiar routines, keeping work and life in separate spaces. Younger Gen Z employees are also eager to return to the office – they want to learn on the job and be part of the mentorship connections that naturally happen more easily in the workplace. In the middle, the generation of employees in their mid-life and mid-career stages largely relished working from home during the past 18 months. Many are parents of young children who enjoyed the extra time gained from no work commuting.
A successful future of work plan should meet the needs of all three of these constituencies. Hybrid work plans, which many (but not all) companies have gravitated towards, can make it easier to meet the needs of each generational group. Yet, each workforce is different and these groups are weighted differently. Think critically about your people and figure out the right balance.
2. Make culture, innovation and community a return-to-work priority
It's undeniable that employees have proven themselves to be very productive remotely in many workplaces, and innovation has kept pace. Remote communication tools have made leaps and bounds in the past year and companies were forced to address digitalization plans, whether they were ready or not.
Keep that momentum to maintain your culture and high level of innovation in your return-to-office plans and beyond. Human connectivity is essential to keeping your teams engaged and coming back excited about work. Many large companies have internal interest groups, from special industry focus groups to committees to discuss race or gender at the organization or within a specific industry.
As a leader, allow cultural moments at your company to happen organically and encourage them to become even bigger with leadership buy-in. When offices reopen, it will be just as important to create space and time for employees to connect — and reconnect. Allow your teams to re-form interpersonal bonds and properly welcome staff that joined your company entirely remotely. These seemingly minor moments of human connection make a significant impact on your team's longevity.
3. Lead with agility
"Agility" has been a big buzzword over the past several years, but what does agility mean in the context of evolving corporate cultural trends?
Leaders need to approach internal goals and benchmarks with the same speed and intensity as their business goals, and break these goals down into smaller, simultaneously operating chunks.
Meet with stakeholders at all levels of your company and define what those goals are. Then, if employees need something, build it for them.
If you can't start with agile leadership within your own company, employees will struggle to get on board with pushing for strong agility goals for your customers and clients. In other words: if you don't walk the walk, you can't talk the talk.
4. Be intentional about your future culture
Leaders need to be thoughtful about approaching times of change to have the best success at keeping teams — and customers — steadily on board with your company, product or service.
Maintaining your team's culture and level of innovation comes easiest when you can bring people back to the office as soon as possible. But first, listen to your people, show you're listening with intentional actions and put people's safety above everything else.
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