Build Your People and They Will Build the Business
This Zig Ziglar quote has been around for a while but is still relevant today.
Your people are your business. Find the right people for your business and success will find you. If you look hard enough and are willing to invest time and money in finding them, you can find talented people who can help you build the business. With some training and alignment, these people can be brought into your fold to start delivering results for your company.
Unfortunately, these people are usually on the move. They are good at what they do and they know they are. Others know it too. High-achievers are not just looking for better pay and more benefits, they also want to work for a company with values that are aligned with theirs. If you want to attract or retain talent, you will need to offer more than just a great salary and benefits. You also need to create an environment that is stimulating for them to work with opportunities for them to grow into other roles or expand their responsibilities.
A typical organisation is not just filled with talented people. Most organisations have both – workers and talent. Workers are important too. They perform tasks that contribute to the smooth operation of the business. Without them, there is no business. Their output may not be as outstanding as their talents but they are part of the organisation and deserve to be appreciated like everyone else.
When it comes to building your people, a strategy that considers every employee is more effective than one that only rewards the high-achievers. With success, the sum total is greater than its parts. An individual – no matter how brilliant – cannot be the only reason why your company is successful. A company cannot stand on only a few. It needs the collective effort of every employee from the most junior staff to the CEO to hold it up and make it great.
How to build your people
If you are looking to grow your business, begin by growing your people. Here are six things I believe leaders can focus on:
1. Hire competent people
Hire competent people even if you have to pay more for them. Remember the saying: ‘Pay peanuts, get monkeys’? You may be penny-pinching and saving on salaries but you may end up paying more in training or hiring additional staff to support the new hire who cannot perform in his or her role.
2. Build a culture
Build a culture that stimulates not stifles. Leaders grow culture. The role of the leader in culture is to build the bridge to connect the people to the organisation. The more people feel they are working for a great organisation, the happier they are. Happy workers work harder and produce more. They also stay longer.
3. Set clear expectations
If you want to build your people you have to be clear about what you expect them to achieve. Setting clear and realistic expectations and helping your people to achieve these expectations is the foundations of success.
4. Give recognition and show appreciation
Every human being wants to be appreciated. Do you have a reward system to reward employee contribution? Is your reward system fair to every employee not just the stars? Do you organise impromptu events to express your gratitude to your people? A small ‘thank you’ or a morning greeting can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits. Give it a go and watch the difference in your staff.
5. Motivate, not demotivate
The best leaders motivate not demotivate. Employee motivation can come in many different forms. The best strategy to motivate your staff is one that is tailored to your unique business environment.
Motivation can be an inclusive culture, more money, better benefits, promotional prospects, opportunities to develop and learn, empowerment, teamwork, a conducive working environment, a physical benefit, recognition, appreciation or gratitude. Motivation can also vary from individual to individual. The best way to motivate your teams is to understand what they value and to use this understanding to help and support them to be better at what they are doing.
6. Develop their strengths, improve their weaknesses
Every individual has strengths and weaknesses. It’s what makes us human. A good leader recognises the strengths and weaknesses of their workers. Weaknesses impede progress and productivity. Strengths grow productivity. Astute leaders know they can leverage the collective strength of their people to succeed. For example, a charismatic sales manager who can galvanise his or her sales force to close more sales will bring in more revenue. You need to invest money and time in developing strengths or improving weaknesses. Your people may need technical knowledge, soft skills, financial planning skills, marketing abilities, or leadership training. The more you invest in building your people, the better your people can build the business.
Your people are your best investment
Your people are your best investment. You cannot afford not to make this investment. Typically, most organisations will have a combination of in-house training and external resources that are made available to their people. Training is usually tied to some long-term goals of the individual and in most cases is meant to prepare the individual for future roles within the company.
More importantly, companies also need a staff development plan for high-performing employees who want to develop themselves understanding that these talented individuals crave opportunities for development and growth.
Develop and retain goes hand in hand
Companies come to me for advice on talent acquisition all the time. I tell them not to be a net importer of talent. The type of company that is very good at hiring and developing talent only to lose them to others. If an employee is unhappy, demotivated or frustrated in their role, they will leave. That goes for every employee, not just the star performers. Imagine all the IP walking out your door and into the arms of a competitor?
Growing your people is essential. Keeping them after they have acquired these new skills is crucial. Ideally, you want a training and development program that can also keep the staff happily employed in your organisation. No one wants to invest money to train their staff only to have some other company reap the rewards. It’s a rule that applies to every employee in your company whether they are star performers or just workers. Don’t forget that hiring new people to replace the ones that have left, takes time and money.
Train the leaders
Since staff development is driven by leaders, it means leaders also need to be trained. Formal in-house leadership training programs seldom work. The leaders in your organisation are your star performers. They do not have the time to coach and train future leaders. Leave that to the expert professional mentors and coaches from outside the company.
Here is some leadership training you can consider for your teams: On top of fundamental management and leadership training programs, consider some additional training for your leaders and managers. Use financial training to equip your managers with business acumen, cross-training to keep their minds mentally agile, case studies to give them real-life knowledge they can apply and special projects for quick, hands-on experience.
“I want you to be better at your job”
In my role as a human resource strategist, I’ve had many managers tell me that saying this phrase is difficult for them at a performance review because the recipient can easily feel like they have not done a good job. If they start feeling demotivated, they lose momentum and drive.
In order for the company to grow, every employee needs to find ways to improve his or her performance annually. But telling them that you need them to do so is not easy especially when they are performing in their roles. The status quo does not equate to new growth. Improvement does.
Instead of saying they need to improve or be more productive, why not explain to them how the business operates and what is required for the organisation to succeed in the long term? If leaders can tell their staff to be 3 to 5 percent better at their job each year, they can ensure the business will continue to grow. The numbers actually came from Peter Drucker’s assertions that most companies grow at a rate of 3 to 5 percent a year. Of course, if your company is aiming for accelerated growth, then you need to communicate this differently.
The important point I am trying to make here is that you are not asking your staff to work harder. You are asking them to work better. If every employee has a mindset that they can improve every year, your business is ahead.
Investing in your people is an investment worth making. Why not start today?