How to Get the Most Out of Your Employees Without Breaking Them

If you are like most small business owners these days, hiring additional employees may not exactly be on the top of your to-do list. Several recent studies (such as this one and this one), point to the fact that a significant population of small business owners are too mired in concerns over sales performance, healthcare costs, and taxation.

But, there is an underlying story to all this. In an effort to conserve costs, many smaller companies are turning to their current employees and “simply” requiring more of them, and they are limiting their hiring to only super essential positions. If you, as a small business owner, find yourself in this dilemma, it can be difficult indeed. You don’t want your employees to break under pressure, you don’t want workers doing work they are unqualified to do, and you don’t want talented staff leaving, taking with them all that you’ve invested in them- all the time, money, and training they received. These issues become even more pressing if you are running a business in an industry that involves constantly changing technology, techniques, or approaches, or your particular business is actually in a high growth period at the moment.

You still have a business to run, and under the current economic circumstances, this may be the only way to stay in business. So where does that leave you?

Thinking About Talent Management in Your Small Business

>The answer lies in having good talent management strategies in place. In a nutshell, talent management is a company’s commitment to recruit, retain, and develop the best employees for any given job. It’s all about knowing which kinds of people to bring into your company; it’s all about investing in your workers today and throughout their employment in your company; it’s about knowing the unique strengths, skills, and potential that every worker brings to the business and building on that knowledge.

These days, talent management has been taken on by the biggest of companies and has subsequently evolved into a complex set of processes, formulas, and statistics. While most of this lies beyond the scope of small businesses, as an idea and in its most fundamental practice, effective talent management is an essential part of doing business even among small companies. If you are working with limited resources, doesn’t it make sense that you want to make the most of them?

Practical Talent Management for Small Businesses

That said, here are five talent management considerations for any small business owner who hires and employs others:

1. First realize that your employees are your biggest assets.

Though the big corps may have a leg up on small businesses when it comes to talent management simply because of the sheer amount of resources they can throw into the effort, they usually come up short on the human end of the spectrum. They may realize that employees are valuable to their bottom line, but they treat them like any other business resource- this includes impersonal things like products, supplies, and equipment.

As a small business owner you can personally get to know your employees. This is a very important and powerful thing. If you invest in your workers because you value the person behind the efforts, I guarantee you, that you will get further in your business. For more on building loyal employees, especially where money is tight, see this previous post.

2. Be in touch with your business’ brand, culture, and long-term goals.

Don’t be short-sighted with your hiring or training. You need to keep in mind where your business is right now, how it functions, and where you plan on going in the future, since all of this will shape how your employees work and what exactly they will be doing. You don’t want your employees to burn out because they are stuck in a setup that is not helping themselves nor the business over the long-term.

3. Be clear about the jobs at hand.

This includes not only having a clear job description for every function, but also knowing which skill sets and personality types do the best in any given position within your business. Don’t be afraid to do a little trial and error if need be. You can shuffle employees around and evaluate the new setup to see if it is worth continuing. Finally, remember to re-evaluate at least once a year the effectiveness of your key company positions to see if responsibilities need to be added, subtracted, or enhanced in some way.

4. Have a system for advancement in place.

Very few small businesses are static. Most small companies face some kind of necessary changes to job responsibilities, the number of employees required, and essential skill sets. You, as a small business owner, need to have systems in place to sustain growth and development. This may include things like having a solid Learning Management System (LMS) and a defined ladder of employee advancement within the company.

5. Get your employees to give you feedback.

I can’t stress this one enough: talk to your employees. Get them to tell you how they are feeling and how they think things can be better in their jobs. You may be surprised by what you hear. You should also have some kind of system in place for performance evaluation, either by co-workers or employees in management positions.

In short, to get the most out of your employees, you have to recognize their undeniable worth to your company. You have to have the right systems in place to bring out their best, and treat your workers not only as a valuable resource, but as important people who have the power to propel your business forward.