Building Productive Employees
Companies that are rich can easily attract the best personnel from the job market. They can afford to pay competitive rewards – i.e. offer the same or higher salaries and allowances than their Competitors.
For small and new businesses, the situation is different. Small and new businesses have limited resources at their disposal and they know that it is not wise to compete with big companies in paying generous salaries and allowances. Yet this is the stage of business evolution when you really need to hire skillful and productive employees. This stage is tough to navigate for any Entrepreneur – only patient and tough-minded people can scale through.
In Nigeria’s business environment, some of the general comments by the new or young Entrepreneurs about the available labor force are:
- A large number of the unemployed people are not willing to take the risk of working for a new business even if the pay is okay.
- Some of unemployed young graduates consider small businesses to lack the capacity to give them a “great career”.
Our findings, however, show that we have many people who are skillful and willing to work for well-organized small businesses but:
- Such people, however, will have to be convinced that the Employer is capable of providing the environment that can help them to grow.
- Some Entrepreneurs have betrayed the trust of their employees in the past by owning salaries and wages or showed bad leadership through lack of care.
Although building loyal and productive employees does not require a “rocket science” careful handling of the following issues critical:
- Excellent business idea: Have an excellent business idea that can lead to world class products. Great idea can attract or it always does attract productive people. Most skillful people like to work for an organization whose business idea can challenge them and possibly help them to be part of the future success.
- Look for the Eagles: Search vigorously for those who wish to be part of great history even if they have to accept a lower salary at the beginning. Ross Perot, former Presidential Candidate in America, and a former Director of IBM, said that it took him three years to assemble the Eagles who helped him to build his company when he left IBM. He explained that strong people are not easy to be assembled because they are like eagles – they do not flock – you have to search for them one by one. Ross Perot confirmed that it was these strong people that made him a Billionaire within a short time.
- Structure: Have a standard organization structure from the onset which shows the opportunities that will be filled by the staff in future when the organization grows. This may be designed to take the shape of a “pyramid, flat (table) or cone”. Always remember that skillful people do not like to work for an organization that has no plan for growth. They want to see the steps that will take them to the top.
- Vision and Mission: As a Business Owner, it is important that you share your vision and mission with all the Employees. This is important so that all of them can always operate on the same wave-length. The values and purpose, jointly known as “core ideology” e.g. honesty, kindness, and customer service skills must be shared by the Staff. Skillful people have no problem aligning their personal vision with the corporate vision.
- Excellent Reward: Have a moderate pay structure and regular pay habit. You cannot retain skillful people whose salaries and wages are irregular or uncertain. Apart from excellent reward when they are active, most workers also think of what will happen to their livelihood when they retire from paid employment. If there is an excellent retirement package, staff loyalty to the organization will increase.
- Planning and Performance Measurement: Entrepreneurs should not hire people who do not believe in working with plan. There must be a process for measuring productivity per employee, units, groups or departments. Comparing the actual performance with plan at regular interval will help to identify the areas that require improvement. It is always better to work with people who are happy to regularly check their actual performance against plan or budget.
- Personnel Handbook: Big, small or new, a business organization must have personnel rules and regulations which must be strictly enforced within the organization. There must be no sacred cows. Skillful people do not want to work in an environment where there are people that are above the law!
- Conduct Background Checks: Entrepreneurs must ensure that their recruitment criteria include background checks, customer service skills, team spirit, relevant educational background, experience and interest in learning.
Inspirational Leadership is the greatest of all the factors discussed above. The CEO or the Boss must be a Leader that can create a conducive environment and inspire the people. He must be able to train the pioneer employees and equip them with the positive values that will enable them to be productive.