How Small Businesses Should Build Their Teams
How does a small business get access to the top talent it needs to grow and succeed?
Small-business hiring is big business in the U.S. - more than half of all jobs created since the economic recession have come thanks to companies with less than 50 employees, and the smallest firms account for the majority of all hiring in the nation each year. But when it's time to expand their workforce, these employers face many more challenges and uncertainties that similar but larger organizations might disregard. How does a small business get access to the top talent it needs to grow and succeed?
Create a plan for new hires
As with any other major business decision, hiring even one new employee isn't advisable without a robust plan in place, and that planning takes time. As Adam Bryant wrote in a guide to hiring for The New York Times, "leaders owe their teams an answer to the same question that young children often ask their parents before setting out on a long drive: 'Where are we going and how are we going to get there?' In other words, what is the goal and how are we going to measure progress along the way?"
As basic as that sounds, Bryant wrote, many business owners fail to understand the answer to those questions for themselves, let alone articulate them to employees and help them achieve those goals. To create a more defined road map for a new position, an employee or a small company as a whole, try to:
Keep it simple
Success comes in many forms. A good leader will be able to understand what success looks like for their business or a specific position, but keep it as clear and concise as possible. A list of specific goals shouldn't be more than three items long.
Bryant also suggested coming up with a way to track progress toward those two or three goals over time. He recommended keeping score in a very public way so that other team members can see who's winning, fostering a friendly sense of competition at the same time.
Keep it up
As Bryant and other experts on the subject explained, team leaders should "feel like a broken record" with how consistently and frequently they make those top priorities known. This will help new and old colleagues alike stay aligned toward the most important goals.
Shake up the interview
Job interviews are an essential part of the hiring process, but they often follow a pattern that can be harmful for both the employer and employees. As Bryant explained, relying on predictable questions ("Where do you see yourself in five years?") and a routine format don't do much to allow candidates to open up about what could be their most intriguing and valuable qualifications. Or, in a competitive job market, it might inform a highly skilled applicant that your company isn't worth his or her time.
Instead, try to get creative with the interview process. One of the best ways to do this is to collaborate with existing employees to brainstorm more relevant questions, or come up with an activity that might allow the candidate to show off certain skills. Embracing an unconventional interview will benefit everyone involved in more ways than one.