Almost everywhere I go these days, I hear a resounding vibe throughout the community: “Our company needs more (or better or faster or harder-working) employees.”
It’s a real humdinger of a problem, too. It’s one thing to need a new work van, or a new table saw, or a new laptop — it’s a whole different challenge to find someone to run it and turn a profit for you.
The following are a collection of my thoughts broken down into actionable rules for hiring and retaining employees. It’s specifically for the folks who are asking ‘how do we find good people?’
The 51/49% Relationship. To give credit where it’s due, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk talks about a 51/49% Relationship in management: If you, as the leader, are willing to give 51% of the relationship to your people — always looking to level-up, help out, teach, rather than take — you will literally guilt-trip them into serving you more. If you can focus on the up-side for your employees and execute on that, they will be guilted into giving back to you. And if I’m wrong? It’s your job, as leadership, to fire them. Not threaten, not shout, not complain — fire them.
However, 95% of employees aren’t genetically predisposed to be lazy sleazeballs. Often, the leadership just hasn’t communicated, given liberty, or is making too many assumptions on what their people really want.
Create Alignment: It’s leadership’s job to figure out where the company is headed. It’s also leadership’s job to ensure that each member of the team is pulling in the same direction. If you hook up two horses to a carriage, and the steeds pull in opposite directions, chaos ensues. Somehow, we’ve come to think that the leadership and employees in a company are different than the two horses.
Ah, but how do we create that alignment? While talking with the CEO of a company with 250+ employees, I learned that he doesn’t have a personal office. I asked how he could have grown such a big company and not even have an office. His response was, “I have big ears. When people have problems, I listen — I don’t need an office for that.”
Listening and executing on the aftermath of a conversation with an employee is the single biggest thing leaders can do to hire good people and foster loyalty (51/49% ring a bell?).
Be Consistent or Die. Playing the long-game is a key to harboring the best employees. Nothing shatters trust faster than inconsistency. If you tell your people something, make it happen. Keep the communication flowing. Use some humility and vulnerability to leverage the power of your team. Most importantly, consistently execute on great intentions, and you can expect great results.
- Spend the next 15 minutes writing a list of things that your employees/crew members want. Then, send each of your direct reports a text or email to schedule a meeting on Monday. In the 30 minute meeting, ask them what their big-picture plan is. Ask them how you can help them get there. Ask what tools, people, or skills they need to do their current or future job better. Once you feel like you’ve exhausted them, say “Tell me more.” I trust that you will be stunned by the response. Oh, and whatever they say they want/need? Either a) make it happen or b) explain why your company isn’t able to make it happen. It may feel like you’re asking them for the quickest way to help them leave your company — in reality, it’s the opposite. Remember? It’s your goal to serve them so much that they’re guilt-tripped into staying longer. 🙂
- To create alignment, I suggest spending another 15 minutes brainstorming the Vision of your company. Where are you going? Why do you do this specific thing? Why do you care? Then, schedule a team meeting with everyone. Maybe schedule this one for next Friday. Get real and communicate your values. Ask if the team will align with it. With the insight you got from the individual meetings, you should have some context on how this meeting will go. It might be hard to be this wide-open, but it’ll be exciting to see their eyes light up when they recognize that they’re part of a team, not a factory.
- Being consistent with the two action steps above may be the hardest part of this whole undertaking. It takes understanding that this isn’t a one-and-done process. It’s consistency. It takes grit to stand up time and time again to your team and remind them why you all do what you do. Set up a weekly meeting with your team, keep it short and sweet, have an agenda, and be sure you ‘have big ears’ when your people are talking. I also suggest one-on-one individual meetings to help build that trust.
Throughout the process of following these three steps, you’ll see some cool things start to happen: I suspect you’ll see a substantial jump in your bottom line. You’ll see people chiming in on tactical ways to save/make more money. You’ll see the morale escalate. Best of all, your people will begin to feel heard, and the law of reciprocity will take care of the rest.
Follow these steps for the next 90 days, and write me with the results.
And if you need help with any three of these action steps, I love lending a hand to individual businesses with my feedback/accountability. Just drop me a note and we’ll take your business to the next level.