How to get and keep great staff (1)

How to get and keep great staff (1)

What if I told you that people don’t work for money!

Research all over the world carried out across many different industry sectors, ages, genders, races and cultures consistently indicates that people are primarily not motivated by how much they get paid.

The most important factors that determine how happy an employee is in her job and how effective and productive she is in it are:

  1. Does she feel she has the opportunity to do what she does best, every day?
  2. Does she feel she is given plenty of opportunity to get even better in her areas of strength?
  3. Does she know what is expected of her at work, every day?
  4. Does her immediate supervisor have regular, structured, meaningful interaction with her that incorporates constructive feedback and acknowledgement?

Other research into management styles and developments in the field of “positive psychology” indicate that people develop certain distinct, innate talents, early in life. These talents become strengths as they grow older and more experienced. Other areas don’t develop as talents and because of that they don’t ever become strengths. No matter how much training and practicing you do in those areas, the best you can ever hope for is that you learn some skills, and learn to “get by”.

Small business owners

Taken together, these are powerful insights for us small business owners. All of us are good at some things, and not so good at others, and worse, we actually hate doing those things. So we employ staff to do those things for us. But how do we find staff that have talent and strength in our own “non-talent” areas, and how do we get them to really excel and stick around for the long haul.

To have a workplace where staff love to work and perform at excellence all the time you need to start at the beginning:

  1. What comes naturally to you, what are your strengths, your talents? Be as specific as you can be. Write it down.
  2. What do you always struggle with? Specific and detailed. Write it down.
  3. Now put all the jobs that are part of your role in two columns, called talent (strengths) and non-talent (non-strengths).
  4. Detail the talents and strengths you need for the jobs in your non-talent column. Again, get as specific as possible, don’t be tempted with HR jargon; “People skills” for example is not a useful descriptor.
  5. Now find someone strong in those talents specifically. (someone who already works for you or when hiring a new employee) Look for indicators of their strengths, not their experience. Passion for something is a good indicator for example, as is willingness to learn. If someone has a talent for something they will learn very quickly. Hire for talent.
  6. Give them the role, and make sure they can use their strengths as much as possible.
  7. Spend time with them to help them develop those strengths further and further.
  8. Don’t waste time training them up in areas of their “non-talents” it will make them feel unmotivated and you frustrated. (obviously there is some room for flexibility in this rule)

In a following article I will talk further about how to make sure that you can get on with your own work confident that your staff are doing theirs, and how to give regular meaningful feedback to your employees.

These are some of the secrets that ensure that an employee will answer with a strong Yes to the 4 questions above. When she does, she will love coming to work and getting stuck into it……and so will you!

This article is based on my own experiences and insights as well as on the following books amongst others:

  • “First break all the rules” and “Now discover your strengths” The Gallup Organisation and Marcus Buckingham
  • “The one minute Manager” series by Ken Blanchard
  • “Learned Optimism” Prof Martin Seligman

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