Even with the national unemployment rate at close to 10 percent, the competition for top employees is intense. If you think that your employees aren’t as good as they should be, or that you’ve got B and C players but your performance will improve if you go out and recruit A players, you’re looking at the situation from the wrong perspective. A bigger challenge with a more rewarding result is to create a culture where the inside talent is recognized, developed, and encouraged to perform.
Your employees are a key element in making your company stand out and building customer satisfaction and loyalty. But for the most part, you and every other company in your field are dipping into the same labor pool. So how do you get extraordinary performance with people who aren’t much different than those your competition has?
Instead of trying to recruit new employees, the solution is to re-recruit the employees you have, keeping them motivated and perhaps even transforming them from B or C players to the A players you need. Here are some tips for re-recruiting your current team:
• Solicit employee input on important projects. Keep in mind that employees who have been with you for years are more likely to really understand the intricacies of your company than a new hire, even one at the executive level. Ask for ideas and really listen to the answers.
• Discover what makes employees want to succeed. Understand what’s driving your employees and link their individual motivations to the company’s larger goals.
• Create a culture where everyone in the organization can be coached and developed. Don’t just offer growth opportunities to new people coming in; make sure your long-time employees know that those same opportunities are open to them.
• Be sure existing employees have the opportunity to apply for any new positions and that they are seriously considered. All of your employees should feel safe reaching beyond their current position.
• When you do hire from the outside, involve current employees in the process. Create a culture where people are able to be involved in the recruiting of others, and in the selection and hiring as well, so they have a voice in the company’s performance.
• Evaluate leaders and managers on their development skills. This is not an easy process to measure and takes more than just looking at numbers. For example, you may have a manager who is losing a lot of people. Does the manager have a terrible turnover problem, or is she a really good developer and is moving people up to better positions? Determine if the people moving on are in fact going on to bigger and better things, or if they are simply escaping. Or consider the manager whose turnover rate is very low. Are the people who work for that manager really satisfied in the same positions year after year? Are they gaining experience and responsibility? Do they want to be where they are or are they trapped? Hold your managers accountable for how well they develop people.
• Ask your people how you as an individual can improve. Business owners are not exempt from the development process and the input of employees can help tremendously. One way to get candid input is to put a group of employees in a room with a large pad of paper, tell them they have 10 minutes to write down suggestions for what you need to do, and leave the room. Keeping it anonymous will give you honest assessments you can use to either change and improve or to find someone else to help you run the company who can balance your high and low points.
Re-recruiting your current employees is a more productive use of your time, energy, and money than looking outside for talent. And when you commit to it, you may find that you had the talent you need on board a long time ago.
Jacquelyn Lynn is the editor of Flashpoints newsletter. Flashpoints is a comprehensive information resource for business owners and managers who want to take their operation to the Flashpoint. Visit http://www.theflashpoints.com to sign up for a free subscription to Flashpoints newsletter plus an extra free gift: The Mindset of High Achievers by JK Harris and Jacquelyn Lynn.
In addition, Jacquelyn Lynn is the author of more than 20 books, including Entrepreneur’s Almanac; Online Shopper’s Survival Guide; Make Big Profits on eBay (with Charlene Davis); In Search of the Five-Cent Nickel (with Don Abbott); and 11 titles in Entrepreneur Media’s StartUp Guide series. She is also the host and executive producer of Doing It Right Radio® at http://www.doingitrightradio.com