Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keeper Employees

Since it was posted last fall, this Bloomberg Businessweek article has consistently been one of the most discussed, most emailed articles on our website. That's saying a lot, given how many articles are posted each week and how many are discussed and emailed by our readers.

The topic is provocative, and I suspect the headline makes it irresistible to business owners, "Three Types of People To Fire Immediately."

But what if we backed up a bit, and instead of focusing on firing, we thought about hiring? A happier topic, and one that management consultant Jeff Wissink, of Navint, tackled recently in an article about hiring "keeper" employees. Find a few of his thoughts (abridged by me) after the break:

1. Put in the HR Work – Top executives often have no interest in the hiring process. That’s a problem. New, creative ideas come from new, creative people. It’s up to you to find those people before the competition. Even CEOs should be spending as much time with their HR department as they are with the business and finance departments.

2. Train new hires but don’t limit them – training is an obvious second step after hiring. But there are ways to do this so that new hires aren’t afraid to expand on what you teach them. If a training program is too strict, employees will often get in the habit of only doing things the exact way they were shown.

3. Encourage impact, not attendance - Employees will be happier, and therefore more productive, if they are given the ability to accomplish tasks the way that they see fit.  We certainly know that there are still bosses out there who use fear tactics to keep workers productive. These employees bury themselves in work, hoping to gain more face time in front of management. A more enjoyable, flexible workplace will keep top employees around, ensuring quality leadership and eliminating turnover costs. Independence in the workplace also allows employees to take a step back and explore creative solutions.

4. Highlight impact – When employees are making an impact, tell them. Employees today need to see that their work is benefitting the company. Whether they are leading an entire project or simply proofreading another’s work, employees will appreciate a quick note or announcement of thanks.

5. Add to expertise – Most employees strive to hone their skills for more reasons than just pleasing the boss. They want to get better at their job. It’s part of the competitive nature in all of us.  If you give them an environment to do that, they will flourish and find the job fulfilling.

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