Attracting & Keeping your Best People

One of the challenges we explore, as part of our Business Improvement Programme, is the attraction and retention of the best people to build an effective team.

The definition of team is perhaps captured by Katzenbach and Smith, 1993, Harvard Business School. “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable.“

An important point here is that your team is bigger than those on your PAYE scheme. It includes your suppliers, associates, trusted advisers and your network.

Good teams have distinct roles, interaction, solve problems together, are goal driven based on productive output not feelings, where all individuals are subservient to the team and there are no passengers.

Within a team, you can categorise roles and responsibilities into four areas. Someone who is ‘Responsible’ and therefore carries out activities. An individual may be ‘Accountable’ being responsible for the outcome. Someone may be ‘Consulted’, where their opinion is sought and makes input to activity. Others may be simply on an ‘Informed’ basis, where they need to know.

Failing to define workplace roles and responsibilities can create tension, lead to miscommunication and inefficiency within your business.

To undertake these roles there are three basic skills within a team, Communication and Negotiation, Analytical and Creative and Organisational skills. A good team has a balance of them all.

Firstly we have to attract the best people to our business. So here are some thoughts:

How much thought goes into your advert? Are you simply looking to recruit and replace someone with anyone or are you seriously looking to attract the best people? Does the copy of your advert provide the reason why the best people should and would apply?

Are you offering a competitive package? Yes money is a huge motivator in the sector, but it is not everything. What else do you offer? Perhaps accommodation, gym membership, food, pension, tips, shares in the business etc. All these contribute to attracting the best people, but they also want to work with the best people, align with a good reputable business, be in a role that meets their expectations, desires and wants, but importantly can see a bright vision led future.

Do you know who you want to attract? Have you profiled the best people? Have you identified someone you want to attract? What would they want to come and join your team?

So once we have them, what can we do to keep the best?

Well firstly we have to evaluate and know they are the best. There is always an investment in new team members, but ongoing or advanced investment is best committed to the right people for your business.

The best can only be measured by firstly knowing what your effective performance standards actually look like. These can be created as a team, but importantly are established for an individual creating clarity and a tool for measurement. The key areas to cover when developing your key performance indicators that should then help you describe “fully satisfactory” performance are:

  • Base them on the position, not the individual. 
  • Observable for fair measure 
  • Meaningful, reasonable and attainable 
  • Expressed in terms of Quantity, Quality, Timeliness, Cost, Safety, or Outcomes 

Strategies to help you retain the best include, performance evaluation, reward and recognition plus personal development.

Too often a business clearly establishes the performance standard, communicates this to the individuals (sometimes ineffectively) and then does no more until it is considered not to be working and lets the individual leave or sacks them. What are you doing to evaluate your teams performance, review the outcomes, learn and develop the individuals for continual improvement?

People who feel appreciated are typically more positive about themselves and their ability to contribute to your business. Most people like the praise to be given in private and in public, but it is critical to know your people and how giving praise motivates them. Your best people are usually the ones with positive self-esteem, so it makes sense to recognise their efforts and show your appreciation by saying ‘thank you’ for their hard work and contribution.

Be innovative with your reward schemes, by considering how you best reward individuals, the team or the whole workforce.

For personal development, there are two areas for consideration. Their ongoing management, which is personalised based on the role and their other Training & Development which is usually delivered as part of the induction, on the job or via external training providers.

Training and Development needs usually fall into one of four areas:

  1. Legislation requirement (first aid, fire, food hygiene)
  2. Technical (the how to, hands on including management)
  3. Behavioural and attitude, soft skill training and development
  4. Something of personal interest more than the business that you are prepared to support

And finally be aware of an individuals behavioural style. Different styles may be required for different roles and many good teams attract many different types of people. Be aware that behavioural styles can complement or conflict with others and different styles may need managing or leading in a different way.

We wish you every success in attracting, recruiting, managing and retaining the best people.