These days many business owners struggle to find capable employees when they need them, let alone finding those who will become great, highly motivated team players. The solution is surprisingly simple: Always be Recruiting.
That's not the same as Always be Hiring, but waiting until you really need a new worker to complete a client project is pretty much guaranteed to damage your reputation when either you can't find someone in time or the person you find turns out to be doing merely adequate work.
As business owners, our instincts too often are to focus on closing more deals, even if we don't have the staff to properly complete the work when the client wants it done. Missed deadlines, cut corners, sub-standard work quality, and damaged reputation are the prices paid for this recruitment "strategy".
Hoping to find your next great employee just when you need them will push you to lower your standards when hiring, probably adding another adequate employee to your team.
Repeated often enough, this will gradually drive away your better employees, as they move to opportunities where they can work within a great team comprised of passionate, highly motivated peers. Further, the occasional great applicant who comes your way is apt to be turned off and leave, once they realize the lack of excitement and high performance among your employees.
Time and time again we see the results; a business owner frustrated by apparent inability to attract and retain great employees, yet in denial that the root cause is not simply today's tight labour market. Retaining your best employees starts with deliberate and persistent recruitment.
Letting the world know through your website, social media, and day-to-day business communications that you are open to receiving resumes will encourage a steady flow of prospective employees to contact you. Review all these letters and resumes periodically, rejecting only those who lack the basic technical skills needed to work for you.
Search the remainder to identify those whose submissions demonstrate excitement, passion, and consistency with your core values and vision. These are the prospects to focus on, by meeting them individually, learning about their interests and motivations, and discussing your core values with them. Be explicit in telling them that you are looking to identify a few great people who you will hire once your workloads increase.
When you discover a gem, try to find a way to bring them on immediately, even if you aren't quite ready for another employee. Over the long term, your business will be much better off if you tend to hire a little early rather than a little late.
A great side-benefit of keeping your mind open to prospective hires is that it will make you less tolerant of mere adequacy from existing employees. You will be more ready to deal with employees who don't fit their current positions or possibly at all, due to capacity to do the work, desire, or understanding.
Some of these deficiencies you can deal with through training and coaching, but knowing exactly who could come in with real passion and energy will help you identify, re-assign, or even terminate the weak links who are holding back company performance. Ultimately, focusing more on recruiting great people will allow you to keep more of them, accelerating your business success.
Our e-book The Recruiting Cycle - how to have the one thing that matters more than anything else: a talented team is available for free download. It provides a more in-depth discussion of this important topic.