Finding Your Next Great Employee

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

Great companies need outstanding employees in order to grow. The problem is finding and retaining that caliber employee. Most small businesses don’t fully understand the process of hiring top-notch employees.

“Effective organizational leadership is simple: 1. Have a vision of where you want to get to. 2. Clearly and persuasively communicate that vision to employees. 3. Be consistent in your behaviors as you strive to achieve that vision.” – from A Roadmap for Employee Engagement by Andy Parsley

Many make the mistake of hiring an employee without clearly thinking the process all the way through. They neglect to think about what they actually want from the new hire. Hiring in this way sets the new employee up for failure before they ever walk in for their first day of work. This turns out to be a waste of time and resources for everyone.

To help avoid this, you need to go through the interview process. The first and most critical step is to write an advertisement that attracts great people in the first place — one that encourages the kind of candidates who want to work for your company.

Thinking this through will also make you consider the short-term and long-term responsibilities and tasks required for this position.

The challenge of finding great job candidates starts with the ad itself. Mediocre job ads attract mediocre workers. To improve your placement ad, you should incorporate the following in the description.

    • Make your company sound innovative and interesting. This will help attract more dynamic applicants who want to work for a fascinating company.
    • Let the applicant know with whom they will most likely be working. Candidates will look forward to learning from someone who is the expert in their field.
    • If the location of your company is a plus for applicants, make sure to mention it. The more benefits you can mention in the ad, the more attractive your ad becomes.
    • Make sure to mention that the position offers growth for the right candidate. Everyone wants to know that they can grow with the company. This also implies that they will be able to make more money as they grow.
    • Include the total compensation and benefits in the offer. Paid holidays, flexible hours, and other perks can be very attractive.
    • Mention that the position requires hard work and dedication. This can help filter out the lazy applicants before time is wasted with the interview.
  • The ad should stand out from all the others. If you want creative, superstar applicants, the ad should be creative, too.

Finding and retaining top talent is one of the most important tasks for any growing company. A strong recruitment ad is just the start but one that can’t be overlooked. Include these tips in your next ad, and hopefully you will attract the type of superstar employee you desire.

The Five Dollar Workday

What Ford did to the work week, was remarkable during that time...

What Ford did to the work week, was remarkable!

Henry Ford, the famous Ford Motor Company founder, was known for many things. Among them was his role in promoting the assembly line as a viable means for mass-producing automobiles, a process that made cars more affordable for middle-class Americans.

Ford had a global vision with consumerism as one of its centerpieces. He had an intense commitment to lowering costs through systemization and building a more process-driven company.

This focus made his next move (which is not as well known) quite a shock at the time.

The Five Dollar Workday

In January 1914, Henry Ford made a radical decision. He increased Ford Motor Company employee wages from $2.34/day to $5/day (equivalent to approximately $110 today) and reduced the workday from nine hours to eight.

While this was one of the most generous pay hikes of its time, Ford didn’t do this simply out of the goodness of his heart. At the time, the Detroit area was already becoming known for companies offering higher-than-average pay. In addition, the boredom of repetitious, assembly-line work led to higher employee turnover rates. One of the underlying reasons behind Ford’s move to increase wages was the desire to attract and retain top-notch employees by effectively creating golden handcuffs.

Ford used his PR machine and news journalist contacts to spread the word about the generous pay. Soon, there were thousands of applicants at every Ford factory, which allowed the company to hire only the best applicants. The fortunate hires stayed with Ford much longer than they otherwise might, since they couldn’t get similar pay elsewhere. In one bold move, Ford had managed to solve most of his company’s labor problems.

But higher employee retention was only one benefit of Ford’s plan. Within two short years of the pay raise, Ford’s profits increased by 200% to $60 million per year. Within five years, Ford Model T’s were rolling out at the rate of one every 24 seconds, much faster than the 12 days each had initially taken to produce. By the end of 1914, the 13,000 Ford Motor Company employees were producing 260,000 automobiles annually, while the rest of the automotive industry produced 280,000 combined.

At the time, much of corporate America did not view employees as an asset. Instead, they were seen as part of a company’s expense. With this single move, Ford was able to open the eyes of the corporate world. Ford had created a workforce that became a model for the eight-hour workday and HR departments of today. More importantly, he set the pace for the eventual rise of middle-class America. Ford employees could actually afford to buy one of the cars they produced.

With the $5-per-day pay hike, Ford was able to reduce employee turnover, increase the pool of high-quality applicants, reduce absenteeism drastically, and attract top-notch employees. The corresponding morale increase led to the highest productivity rates in history.

So what’s the moral of this story? What can we glean from it and apply to our own companies in the 21st century?

When companies shift their mindset from viewing employees as an expense item on the financials to an asset with vast potential, they can begin to see brighter possibilities for the whole company as well. Employees who truly believe they are appreciated and feel valuable to their company are much more likely to be highly productive and happy with what they are doing. Content employees are much less likely to actively seek opportunities elsewhere. Loyal, long-term employees lead to stability and customer satisfaction.

Henry Ford made a big splash with his five-dollar workday. The same kind of impact can be made today by implementing innovative ideas that show employees you appreciate what they do.

Studies and surveys have shown that higher pay is not the top motivator for employees to stay with their company. Feeling valued, being content in their role, and accomplishing larger goals are more important criteria. Find effective ways to instill those feelings in your employees, and you can make your own splash.

Positive Steps for Handling Negativity at Work

We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The same is true of negativity in the workplace, I heard once also, that you are only as good as your weakest link. A single employee’s negative attitude can bring coworkers down and hurt morale. So how can you combat it?

    • Confront the offender. While it may seem easier to ignore a problem and hope it goes away, that rarely works. In fact, the problem usually just keeps getting worse until you have no choice but to act. When you see someone displaying a negative attitude (or hear about it from coworkers), sit the person down and let them know their attitude is not acceptable.
    • Get to the root of the problem. In your meeting, try to discover the cause of the person’s dissatisfaction. Perhaps they feel slighted by something that happened at work. They may think someone else received preferential treatment over them or that what they do goes unnoticed and unrecognized. Whatever the case, hear them out and acknowledge their feelings, even if you disagree. Share your own thoughts, discuss the issues, and try not to be too confrontational.
    • Seek solutions. As you’re discussing issues, look for ways to resolve them as best you can. Keep in mind that not all grievances can be easily solved and not all negativity is completely work-related. However, approaching the situation with a solutions-oriented mindset should help at least let the person know you’re taking their well-being seriously.
    • Hold your ground. No matter the outcome of your meeting, make it clear that the employee is responsible for their own actions and that continued negativity will not be tolerated. Spell out the consequences and stand firm in your resolve.
    • Reward positivity. Hopefully, your meeting and the solutions you devise together will trigger an attitude shift in your employee. As you notice changes, offer positive reinforcement and encouragement. Of course, even if you don’t see changes in the employee, try not to get too discouraged. Instead, focus on the more positive members of your team. Reinforce, reward, and encourage their attitude and its positive influence on those around them.

High Five! Ways to Make Your Work-Life More Enjoyable

Nineteenth-century humorist Josh Billings famously said, “Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he’s made of.” Here are five tips to help you make sure life’s polishing you into a beautiful gem:

Slow down. Yes, we’re all busy, and we all have deadlines we need to meet. But trying to go 100 miles per hour in 20 different directions simultaneously will only get you nowhere that much faster. Take some time each day to step away from the grind, unwind, and slow down. Go for a walk. Spend time by yourself. Buy a coworker lunch or a cup of coffee. Or just relax, recharge, and reconnect with the world around you. You’ll return more focused and better able to handle the day.

Show appreciation. As human beings, we all appreciate feeling, well, appreciated. Make sure you thank those around you for the things they do to help and encourage you. Let your coworkers know how much their time, talents, encouragement, and support mean to you every day.

Offer positive reinforcement. This may sound like showing appreciation, but it’s a little different. With appreciation, you’re thanking someone for something they’ve done for you. With positive reinforcement, there’s no expectation that the other person has done or will do anything for you. You’re showing them encouragement with no strings attached. For example, when you see a coworker making strides in an area of concern or taking on new challenges, give them a pat on the back and hearty congratulations. Similarly, if you see someone struggling, offer support and guidance if you can.

Counter negativity with positive words and praise. Negativity is a highly contagious workplace disease. Don’t let it spread to you. Avoid overly negative office chat. Focus instead on building people up by being a positive voice for and influence on those around you.

Find creative ways to use your strengths. We all have things we need to do at work, and it’s important to accomplish those tasks. But, whenever possible, try to carve out some time to work on projects that showcase your talents and put your strengths to maximum use. If such projects are hard to find, create your own, and present them to your manager or boss. Make sure to include valid reasons you think your projects will benefit the company. If your ideas get shot down, don’t give up. Come up with a better plan, and keep trying. Your initiative, determination, and positive attitude will not go unnoticed.

Boost Your Sales Team’s Confidence With Internal Product Catalogs

No salesperson likes to say “I don’t know” when answering a customer’s question. While an occasional question may stump you, an internal product catalog is a great way to train your team and teach them the ins and outs of the products and services you sell. A well-produced internal catalog will help reduce those “I don’t know” moments and ensure your salespeople are knowledgeable enough to represent your products and services effectively. Here are a few tips for creating just such a catalog:

employees and sales force

  • There is no such thing as “too much information.” Gathering product information that covers anything and everything you can think of and having it readily available at your sales team’s fingertips will save a lot of time, hassle, and frustration should questions arise later.
  • In addition to detailed specs, pricing configurations, and other sales team info, be sure to insert copies of finalized marketing slicks that your customers may have in front of them, so your sales team can refer to those items as needed.
  • Consider using a three-ring binder, so pages can be easily organized, updated, and replaced.
  • Conveniently organize sections with labeled tab dividers for easy access.
  • Avoid page numbering if you plan to replace/update pages, since the removal/addition of pages can affect page numbering throughout your entire catalog.
  • If necessary, date the updated documents in the lower corner of the page, so you know their relevance.
  • Remember, the more knowledgeable your team is, the more satisfied your customers will be.