Building a Better Board
As an advisor to fast-growth companies, I spend a lot of time with entrepreneurs who want to take their businesses to the next level. Given my legal background […]Read more
Some pundits are expecting to see explosive growth in the economy once people are vaccinated and all of the stimulus money in Canada and the US makes its way through the economy. It is also anticipated that this economic growth will put pressure on employment levels. In some industries it is expected that it will be tough to find good people.
It is going to be even tougher for SMEs, who often find it hard to recruit great people. It’s a fact of business life that most employees fare better in — if not prefer — the confines of the corporation. There, reporting hierarchies and duplication of roles mean that staff can make meaningful contributions to the company’s success when working within the limits of detailed job descriptions, constant managerial oversight and endless bureaucracy.
That’s not the case at entrepreneurial firms, typically startup or fast-growing enterprises whose hallmarks are a lack of structure, a dearth of human and financial resources, and frequent changes in direction. What these firms need are staff who can succeed despite the turbulence of the entrepreneurial environment. Many business owners figure this out the hard way, only after hiring and firing corporate types who can’t get with the program.
Of course, it’s not enough to be aware of the problem; you have to know what to do about it. Here are the qualities I suggest that you look for in job candidates who’ll thrive in an entrepreneurial business:
1. Resourcefulness. Entrepreneurs rarely have the infrastructure, resources or information needed to achieve their goals. They need employees who can make do with what they have. Creativity and lateral thinking are key skills for your people to have.
2. Take-charge attitude. Entrepreneurs running fast-growth companies must delegate to their employees — often junior people — but can’t do much hand-holding after that. Thus, the ideal employees are self-starters who take ownership of everything they do and cut through the obstacles in their path.
3. Unending energy. Entrepreneurial firms cannot afford to have a 9-to-5 culture. Their ideal employee has loads of enthusiasm and energy, and consistently generates better than expected output. Not only do they want to contribute to the bottom line, they also feel the need to see the results of their contributions quickly.
4. Growth potential. Entrepreneurial companies are like a human-resources vacuum — there are always leadership roles to fill. The best staff are willing to accept higher levels of responsibility than one might expect from someone with their position, title, experience level or salary. They act as a strong role model, by training and coaching others, and assume supervisory responsibilities — again, much earlier than the norm in a corporate environment.
5. They are team players. In big companies, middle managers and detailed job descriptions alleviate the need for individuals to understand their role within the corporate whole. (If their performance is somehow lacking, then surely someone will tell them!) Because entrepreneurial companies lack that infrastructure, staff must understand the big picture and how their actions contribute to the cause.
6. Multi-tasking ability. Fast growth means few entrepreneurial enterprises can afford to pigeonhole employees in narrow job descriptions. They have the ability to perform multiple roles until the incremental duties and functions assumed can be assigned to co-workers in newly defined roles, and they have the willingness to do the grunt work that’s usually the domain of low-level employees. They’re jacks of all trades, and happy about it.
7. They are improvement-oriented. As companies grow, employees must also evolve. If you have staff who challenge existing procedures and systems, suggest changes frequently and are dedicated to self-improvement, they’re the right people for your entrepreneurial firm.
Since entrepreneurs operate on meagre budgets, its hard to compete for people on price. You have to offer your people something that big corporate employers cannot – an entrepreneurial environment where they can improve their leadership abilities, exercise their creativity and manage themselves.