I’ve started and scaled companies, and one of the toughest nuts to crack was getting the people equation right. Many companies are challenged today with this same nut. There’s excitement in the air about businesses reopening and the potential revenue growth to follow. Jobs are abundant, but for many industries, there are disinterested prospective workers. Blame the upheavals of the pandemic for much of the labor shortage. Having to adapt the pre-pandemic in-office work environment to a work-from-home virtual environment had a lasting impact on much of the labor pool. The workforce is fickle on returning to the old way of doing business.
Essential to any company’s long-term sustainability and growth is getting the people equation right. I coached my executive staff on 10 steps during the 14 years I led multiple companies. We scaled from less than 10 people to over 2,000 people in 41 states and two foreign countries. We were always recruiting, hiring, promoting, and in some cases, firing underperformers or ethically challenged employees. I’m confident these 10 steps to getting the people equation right are what created our exponential success over those 14 years.
Step 1. Get the organization right. Companies often build organizations as they would adding on rooms to an existing dwelling. The house appears to be a patchwork of spaces, lacks synergy, flow and purpose. The add-ons serve as quick fixes to address immediate capacity issues. However, they inhibit productivity and lack long-term sustainability. How do you correct this? Build a model organization from the start and modify it as your company scales. Identify the essential functions to be performed by labor and technology, honor the principles of unity of command and span of control, and design it as though you will continuously scale.
Step 2. Get the leadership right. When you scale, the most challenging factor is finding the right leaders who inspire the workforce to achieve more than what any single team member can on their own. Invest in a leader with the right expertise, experience, emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication and the climate they foster.
Step 3. Get the job announcement right. Over my years, I’ve reviewed hundreds of job announcements posted by my hiring managers, and I’ve challenged them after reading the announcement, asking who would want to work for us? If you want the very best to work for you, start posting a compelling job announcement that inspires the very best to apply. Hand in glove with getting the job announcement right is Step 4, get the candidate filter right. Create an ideal candidate avatar for the job vacancy that will maximize the organization’s productivity. Use the candidate avatar to filter the unqualified from the qualified candidates.
Step 5. Get the interview right. For any business with more than two people in the organization, the most crucial component is human capital. So, don’t short-change the interview process! Use your candidate avatar to rank order the very best aspirants and then do your homework on each of them. Call and talk to past employers, professors, teachers. Look at their social media posts. Use behavioral assessments and technical tests to determine their suitability. Set up multiple types of interviews ranging from one-on-one to panels of prospective co-workers for a single candidate or numerous candidates.
Step 6. Get the offer right. If you want the very best, then your offer must mirror that philosophy. And don’t think of the offer as salary alone. Consider the whole package to include paid time off, incentive compensation, health, retirement, and education benefits, other company perks, and long-term growth potential in the organization.
Step 7. Get the onboarding right. More after-hires are lost because companies do a poor job of onboarding them. A new employee forms impressions about the organization immediately upon accepting your offer letter. Make the onboarding process extremely positive. Assign a sponsor and provide a welcoming environment with a workstation and all the peripheral equipment required for the job.
Step 8. Get the probationary period right. No matter what layer the employee enters the organization, there’s an expected and necessary acclimation period. Create an employee plan with goals to achieve in 30, 60 and 90 days, and longer if appropriate. Train and certify them on the systems, processes and procedures. Clarify how they can best communicate in the organization and their supervisor and sponsor’s availability to address challenges.
Step 9. Get the performance review right. Conduct frequent reviews and establish trust, promote open dialogue, and provide and be open to positive, constructive feedback for the organization’s good. Always acknowledge your employee’s aspirations and pathway to growth and codify them in a development plan.
Step 10. Get the promotion right. Balance the organization’s needs based on the model in Step 1 with the employee’s aspirations identified in Step 9. Guard against bias and promote based on merit, potential, organization needs and cultural fit.
Getting the right people on the right bus, headed in the right direction, is one of the most difficult organizational challenges. Follow these 10 steps to getting the people equation right, then watch your organization thrive. This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Now, let’s get after it!
Retired Col. Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions. Paul and Lisa mentor and coach business owners on leadership and management principles in achieving and sustaining their business growth and profitability goals. He can be reached at [email protected]