Any business needs to get the basics of employing staff sorted: employing staff legally is obvious but having a staffing plan and giving your employees a clear set of values and sense of purpose is also fundamental to success….it’s the ABC of managing staff.
Recruiting your first employee is one of the single biggest steps in the development of a business. From sole trader to having to ensure that there are sufficient funds in the bank each month to pay someone else is a huge demonstration of the growth of the business – it represents a doubling of the human assets and a step up from being one of million plus “one woman/man bands” to joining the ranks of the many fewer businesses employing staff.
For many that first staff member may be a friend or someone who previously was contracted part time to the business but for others it will be someone who has responded to an advert for talent. Making sure that the employment is legal can be self-taught or increasingly implemented through the use of any one of a plethora of online HR advisers.
But in as much this constitutes the legal basis of employing someone it is also important to be clear about the responsibilities of the job and what is expected of the employee. Write it down if that wasn’t already done as the basis of the job advert, discuss it with the employee, modify it and ensure that you both agree the role. After that, review the job regularly with the employee.
Even in a two person business it is necessary to sit down regularly and review how things are progressing – often hard to do when the phones are ringing and there is stuff to do. But that said it remarkable, even in the smallest of organisations, how resentment can start to build when a busy manager or owner fails to take the time to review how their staff are doing. Worse, this oversight can have surprising consequences with staff poorly utilised whist the “boss” works themselves to a frazzle. The best advice – set objectives clearly and in writing as far as possible, review those regularly, acknowledge progress constantly and revise always looking to delegate to both build the role and to delegate as much as possible.
From these simple steps comes the opportunity to gradually stretch staff to take on new activities for which most will appreciate the implicit trust and the chance to make an even greater impact whilst the owner manager can free time to grow the business in new directions. This is basis of a staff plan but by taking the time to think out the development of staff business owners can start to free themselves from drowning in their own “to do” lists at the expense of committing to developing and growing the overall business.
Once beyond two or three staff members the staff plan should start to greater formality but should be covering thinking around how to develop the employees you have through training to issues such as the types of skills and people you would like add next to the growing organisation.
The concept of an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) may seem overly sophisticated for many small businesses but more simply put it is the “why do people work here?” statement that encompasses the values of the owner manager themselves. For many small businesses location may be a given but in the age of remote and internet based working for an increasing number of workers it is not. So the content of the work and the values or the employer are increasingly critical in maintaining the commitment and motivation of employees.
This is not just about statements on a wall it is about the owner manager being clear about the values of the business are. This should start with “this is how we treat our staff” to be followed shortly by how the business deals with its clients and other stakeholders. These need to be consistent, achievable and evidential statements which are almost always best developed with the engagement of staff themselves. Once developed they become a powerful reminder of the very reasons the enterprise exists and the reasons “why things get done the way they get done”. The EVP needs to be reviewed and revised regularly and thereby embodied in the behaviours of the company rather than just becoming wallpaper.
So want to grow the business – get the basics of employing staff sorted:
- Ensure you are employing your staff legally.
- Write the job description down – and specify on what criteria people will be assessed. Take the time to review progress regularly to give feedback and encouragement and to adjust in order to improve, stretch and to delegate.
- Develop your Employee Value Proposition – it about more than why should people work for you and be led by you – it’s about why you are in business.
Get the ABC sorted and you’re set to lead your staff, free your own time, to delegate and get to focus on where you can most add value in growing the business.