Every company strives to hire and retain the best talent in their respective market. It’s an extremely difficult task to find and manage the right people to effectively blend into your business while simultaneously producing results that are in line with the strategy, direction and vision of a company. Retention and turnover are high attention items that need to be managed very carefully in SMB organizations. It’s not to say that large companies aren’t affected by the comings and goings of staff, but the impact of personnel changes in smaller companies are much closer to the top and bottom lines. A small company can be devastated if it hires the wrong people, both from a sunk cost perspective and through productivity lost on exiting under performers, or replacing the good employees that leave. Either way, paying close attention to recruiting and retaining your best and brightest are strategies that start with understanding the make-up and DNA of the employees that are currently successful in your organization.
We get involved in a number of organizational hiring cycles for our clients, either in an advisory capacity or during the selection process for key leadership positions. Over the years, we’ve found that certain individual types excel in small business environments, adapting to growing organizations and ingraining themselves into the vision and make-up of the enterprise. Some types of employees are there only for a paycheck and do just the minimum to get by. Then there are those who have a hard time making it in a small business environment because they have never had the responsibilities that go with being a big fish in a small ocean.
Some time ago, we crafted a diagram to clarify characteristics of new recruits and how they are visualized as employees once they are on board. By assessing the potential of how a new employee will contribute to a business, we can quickly ascertain whether or not this person is really someone who can produce and fit well into the company. Here is how we see it:
The Mission Employee
Many SMB companies need people to deliver a vision in the same fashion that leadership strives for. When the buck stops at the top executive, sustainability of growth and company expansion is limited. For companies to successfully multiply and expand, there has to be a divide and conquer strategy. In most professional services businesses, this vision can only be realized when other leaders naturally emerge. For these leaders to emerge, they need to be on a mission to carry through the vision of the organization in all that they do. Not every company is ready for these types of people, but when your organization is ready to rise to the occasion, these individuals will help wave your flag in both their business and personal lives.
The Career Employee
Some of the highly focused “career” minded employees will be of high value to your company. But the question of whether or not they transform into a company vision follower or a self-focused career enthusiast is yet to be determined. Every company needs people on a career path that is in line with the strategy of a business. There is high value in plotting career growth and personal development plans with your people. However, in the SMB space, the higher you go, the fewer spots there are to occupy. At some point, the “career” individual will assess their personal situation and leave because of actual or perceived growth ceilings, or will demand a raise/promotion/etc. to keep their personal goals on track. There is nothing wrong with employees being eager about wanting business growth and maturity; you just need to understand where these people fall on the overall spectrum of the corporate org chart.
Every company needs employees that view their role as a “job”. If these employees are good at what they do, are uniquely skilled, perform at an acceptable level, they could be at a company for many years. When we start looking at roles that require a higher level of contribution and are tightly aligned with metrics around revenue, profit or customer care, then the individual that just views their role as a “job” may be in the wrong place. Higher levels of accountability fall in line with the personal vision of their contribution level. It’s rare to find a person that is successful in a sales capacity if they only see their role as a “job”. These individuals end up as below average performers and usually turn over once their evaluation and employee reviews reflect marginal performance.
Again, for SMB organizations, there is rarely a place to hide. Overall success is highly dependent on synchronization of the employee’s corporate value paired with their own personal vision of success and contribution. If either of these balances is off, then there needs to be a realignment of expectations or a job function change. Unfortunately for most SMB companies, the variety of roles to choose from is rather limited; thus, making sure the match is clear before the person is hired is essential.
If you would like to learn specifics regarding our philosophy on this topic, shoot us a note and we’ll be happy to provide an additional point of view.