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Hiring, Managing, and Growing Your Small-Business Team

Developing Your Most Important Business Resource

Hiring and managing employees, including contractors, accountants, and attorneys, is one of the most challenging aspects of owning a small business, in addition to everything else required for success, including raising capital, building and monitoring business credit, and weathering the highs and lows of the market.

With team building, the process begins with recruitment, applications, and interviews, but it doesn’t end when the ink dries on a contract; new employees need to trained, developed and managed; veteran employees need to be motivated and monitored; unproductive employees need to be fired.

Your team is more than a reflection of your venture’s mission and personality, they are the heart and soul of your business. In order to succeed, you will need to grow your small-business team with care, patience, and respect.

Four Keys to Improving Communications and Getting the Most From Your Team

  • Hire motivated workers: Attitude is everything. You can teach a new employee specific skills and you can find productive ways to develop a team member’s latent talents, but you cannot teach enthusiasm, grit, or independence. It’s relatively easy to target candidates whose skills meet your current needs—this is what many small-business owners focus on when hiring: Can this candidate fulfill the role and meet our immediate needs? Exceptional managers know that the best candidates are not necessarily those with the most highly-developed skillsets. Finding someone who wants to grow personally and professionally, who displays enthusiasm for your business, and who has abundant energy, is often more important in the long run.
  • Take the time to properly train new employees: Sure, you are busy and you have a thousand other pressing matters to attend to, but if you want exceptional results from a new employee, then you need to invest time and energy in the training process. Think of it as a value proposition: few if any of the resources you develop as a business owner will return greater rewards to your venture than your employees.
  • Give clear instructions: Don’t assume that your team members understand your business’s mission as well as you do. And don’t assume that your team members will be prepared to take action at a moment’s notice. Employees need to have an intimate understanding of the business’s specific goals. As the owner of the business, it is your responsibility to make sure that each of your team members can articulate the mission of your business. Instead of asking if instructions are understood (no one wants to admit that they’ve failed to understand a concept or task), ask your employees to outline specific steps they plan to take to complete an objective.
  • Provide constant feedback: There is a very fine line between business owners who micromanage their employees and those who give constructive feedback. Allow your employees to engage with tasks on their own terms, to find solutions, to execute orders—then, once the task is complete, you can sit down with your employee to review their progress and make corrections if necessary.

Author:

Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.