How to make the most of talent in 2015

Welcome to the new year! Hopefully in 2014 you learnt more about yourself as an entrepreneur and how you want to use your talent to impact the world. And by talent we mean those people that work with you to accomplish your goals.

A small business usually has a small staff. So the impact of each person is usually greater. Your company may have only 2 full time employees with a host of temps and contractors. Or you keep as much as 8 persons in-house. The contribution of each talent can make or break your business over time.

In fact, throughout this year, you may need to add a person or two to your business. Due to your small size, you have less room for error in hiring. The wrong employee in a small business is like fitting a boulder into a handbag – it’s a hard task and it will destroy the bag. There is no easy way to create the worker you want.  But there are different ways you can secure top talent for your small business this year.

More than ‘Talent’

The first thing is to stop thinking of people as purely ‘talent’ or a human resource. We use the phrases for business convenience, but it creates a semi-conscious idea of people who must be mechanical. People who are able to separate business from pleasure, instead of making business a pleasure. It also supports the notion of a ‘work-life balance’. Instead, it should be acceptable that work is simply a part of your life and not life itself. The same goes for your ‘talent’, a.k.a., the living human beings that work for you.

It’s been noted that some small business persons do not follow ethical practices with their staff. There is a deliberate lack of structure about working hours, leave and compensation for overtime. Employees abused in this way often leave and turnover is high. This may carry on for years.  The business owner simply moves from one hire to the next in a labour market overflowing with talent. Not only is it often illegal, but it does nothing for the growth or longevity of your business.

In focusing on the whole person, think about how you can hire persons to grow with your business. Craft your job applications catered to that need. Be flexible with compensation and benefits. Try out those that matter to the person like child care or free lunches. Add them to those that benefit the company like insurance. Large tech companies have proven that compensation does not have to come with a one-size fits all package. Work with your accountant to offer a cafeteria of benefits.

Attitude not aptitude

Proven ways to hire successfully include hiring for attitude not aptitude. A standard resume will focus on skills, qualifications and vocational dexterity. I can’t tell you how having children taught a customer care manager coping skills. Or how having come through a major illness can make a salesman more resilient. Risk reading between the lines to pick up on talent that may bring you the right attitude for success.

How flexible are you willing to be? If you are in your late 20s, are you willing to hire someone in their 50s? There is much discussion around how the 5 generations get along in the workplace. Different reports talk about how the different generations work. Millenials, Generations Y & X, Baby Boomers have various work ethics. Don’t discriminate, but understand how age and experience may make a difference in approach. Harvard Business Review posits that the differences between generations should be ignored. Focus instead on what they have in common. Arrange mentorship relationships that go up as well as down the age line. And once again, focus on the whole person, not just their resume.

What is your goal for your talent? You can spend time looking for the person who understands you best and allows you to remain the same. Or you can take a chance on someone who inspires you to sharpen your leadership skills. Perhaps they will one day even be better than you. Make your expectations clear from the start. Get their expectations and have a beautiful 2015 working together.

Let us know how you look for talent in the comments below.