By Tanveer Naseer
No matter what industry your business is based in, all entrepreneurs and small business owners share one thing in common — the desire to see their business grow and become more profitable. In most cases, this drive leads to a focus on looking out for new markets or finding new ways to attract new customers. And yet, few business owners realize how important growing and developing their team of employees is to helping the company achieve greater prosperity and stability.
Indeed, in a survey among owners of the fastest-growing small businesses in North America, more than 77 percent of respondents said that “hiring the right people” played a significant role in their company’s ability to grow. Of course, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t start their companies so they can be in a position to lead others. Instead, most embrace the entrepreneurial spirit in order to “be their own boss” — and not to become someone else’s.
This is probably why many treat the hiring of new employees simply as though they were securing another vendor in their product supply chain. In other words, business owners tend to simply look for someone to pass off some of the issues of getting the products and services to the customers. While this approach can provide some short-term gains, it prevents business owners from understanding the value employees offer to the future growth of their company.
So how can business owners develop a team for success where employees will help propel the growth of their companies? Here are some tips on where to begin.
1. Find People That Complement Your Company’s Strengths
Let’s face it — one of the things that makes it enjoyable to go to work every day is being able to roll up our sleeves and collaborate with people with whom we share a common bond. This could be liking the same kind of music or movies, relating to the same life experiences, and so forth. As the owner of your own business, it’s only natural that you’d like to find that common bond in those you’re hiring as members of your team.
However, what’s equally important is making sure you’re hiring people who will fill your organization’s existing needs. As much as we all enjoy having others approve or support our viewpoints, we also need to make sure that we have people on our team who are able to see issues that remain outside our field of view and advise us accordingly of how our plans might be failing to address them.
Don’t forget that the most effective way to encourage innovation and gain access to unique approaches to product and service development is by fostering a diversity of voices in the makeup of your team.
2. Hand Off Responsibilities Instead of Micromanaging
After listening to one of my clients speak with pride about his current rise in revenue, I commented how this would be a great time to look into hiring some additional team members. My client looked at me with dread and said, “I have too much work already. I don’t have time to worry about making sure someone else is doing this work.” Unfortunately, my client’s impression about bringing new people aboard is a common one.
When you hire someone to join your company, you shouldn’t be thinking — or worse, expecting — that this person will need your constant supervision (in other words, the proverbial constant looking over their shoulders). Instead, your goal in expanding your team is to transfer responsibilities to others, so you can turn your attention to the ever-changing needs of your growing company.
As such, when problems come up, entrust those you’ve hired to handle these issues instead of jumping in to put out the fires yourself. That should be, after all, the reason why you hired them in the first place.
3. Treat Their Position as More Than Just a Job
While you might be viewing these new hires as team members who are there to help take some of the workload off your shoulders, it’s also important that you consider the situation from their end if you really want to develop a strong team to help your company move forward.
For your new employees, these roles shouldn’t seem like mere jobs that need to be filled. Instead, you need to create an understanding that these are career positions, with opportunities for professional growth as the company further develops and prospers. Although your employees might not have the same level of personal investment in your business as you do, you can still encourage that desire in them to see the company succeed by providing them with coaching and resources to grow so that in the future they can help with leading the new teams and/or divisions that will be created as your company grows.
Remember, employees aren’t just motivated by money. They spend almost half of their waking time working for you. They want to feel like that time is an investment, not just a necessary evil needed to pay the rent. Employees want to enjoy their work and their work environment. They want to feel good about their work and the company they work for. Filling these needs can go a long way to fostering a team of long-term, loyal, and productive employees.
With this in mind, start making plans demonstrating a career path for your employees. Talk to them about what is required to grow from one level to the next, and provide them with training opportunities in order to move up to these next levels. Be sure to also set up clear, measurable goals and expectations right from the start, so that you and your new employee can track their progress and see where they might need some additional help or training.
Although our objective might be to seek opportunities for our company to grow, it’s important that we recognize the change this will bring to our role in the business as we move from being solely in charge of developing our company to helping with the development of others who we bring into the team to help our organization mature and prosper.
Tanveer Naseer is a business coach who works to help small to medium-size businesses develop their leadership skills and team strategies for future growth. He also writes about leadership and workplace issues with a focus on helping businesses better understand and develop their most valuable asset, their employees. Visit his blog at TanveerNaseer.com; you can also email Tanveer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @TanveerNaseer.
Originally published: Oct 31, 2011