As an experienced HR consultant, I’m often asked for my tips on employing people within small businesses. Understandably, small business owners want to avoid the pitfalls along the way and ensure their staff are motivated and contributing fully to the business.
I suggest making sure that the basics are in place and it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It can, in fact, be very straightforward and is summarised in three words: Communication; Contribution and Compliance.
Starting with sharing your goals and aims with those working for you, making sure people understand and buy into these, to contribute to your business achieving these particular goals – however mundane or ambitious they might be.
Providing feedback, and liaising with your staff might seem obvious, but the quality and frequency can vary enormously. Getting the balance right, depending on individual needs and the stage of someone’s development is crucial. Establishing rapport to enable you to have honest conversations with each other (yes – two way!) will ensure learning is possible, all for the benefit of the business, by both delivering what is required, but also you will be more likely to retain good people. Where things are not going so well, having the opportunity to talk openly about this, ideally in a non-threatening way, building an atmosphere of trust, will mean that the negative side of managing people can be handled effectively too.
If you are clear in your communication with staff, particularly about your business aims, then it is easier to define what each person’s contribution to the business can or should be. People are more motivated when they feel that what they do makes a difference and can provide stability in staff turnover and opportunities for business growth. Setting objectives and managing employees against these, while being clear these are aligned to the overall aims of the business are vital to maintain engagement.
Engaged and ‘in flow’ employees are much more productive and energised. This only comes when people are able to operate using their strengths, in a role or environment that they feel fits with their values. Finding the right people, or providing opportunities to develop the right people, can be a valuable way to nurture this in any organisation, whether you operate in the commercial, charitable or public sectors.
This can fill people with dread, but if you have the basic documents and procedures in place, understood, and followed, it really does make it much easier to deal with difficulties when and not if these occur – at the organisational or individual level.
With employing people, it starts with letters of appointment and contracts, through to policies (these can be minimal, particularly in small or micro-organisations), but also ensuring you handle things relating to payroll or employment rights properly. Sometimes this will need checking with your advisors, or checking out how things should be handled, ideally in good time so you’re not tripped up. It doesn’t need to be avoided and there are extensive sources of advice out there, or better still, build up your network of trusted specialists who can help you whenever you need it.
This post was written by Tracy Humphrey, Director of THR Consulting. If you’d like to hear more tips and advice on how to keep employment and HR simple for your small business Tracy is speaking as part of a free event hosted by Team4 Solutions.
The event will be held on Tues 25th June from 10am – 1pm, with lunch included, at the Uckfield Civic Centre. Book your place here.