Hiring team members, contractors, and companies presents a unique set of challenges to every entrepreneur. Here are the top five:
1. Training, training, training
If you don’t train your employees properly, one of three things will happen: they’ll get bored and quit; they’ll become frustrated and quit; or you’ll fire them for inadequate performance. Many businesses fire people for inadequate performance not realizing the real issue was poor training.
Another unfortunate side effect of poor training is that it might create compliance issues for your company. For example, if you’re bound by PCI compliance, which most businesses are, you’re required to “maintain a policy that addresses information security for employees and contractors.” Not having a security policy in place makes you less likely to train employees on PCI compliance, because without documentation, training is extremely difficult.
2. Not knowing how they’ll respond under pressure
There’s absolutely no way to know for sure how someone will respond when faced with an emotional situation requiring a professional, restrained response (like an angry customer or a clash of personalities).
For example, if you hire a contractor to work with your head of payroll and they have a disagreement, you won’t know if your contractor is a diplomat or a disruption until a difficult situation arises. You can ask questions in the beginning, but sometimes people tell you what they think you want to hear. Nobody’s going to admit they have a short temper and might explode at the slightest offense.
When hiring larger companies to do work for you, it’s a little easier to gauge how they might respond. For instance, say you’re a real estate investor and you hire a property management company. Before you sign on that dotted line and make your first payment, you need to know how that company will handle the undesirable task of eviction.
For example, after winning a hearing, you can’t remove a tenant without a writ of possession, which is usually issued a few days after the initial hearing. You need to know that your property management company will follow this, and other eviction rules to the letter.
Since there’s a quantifiable legal process that must be followed, it’s easy to verify. Ask the company for a written policy regarding how they handle evictions. Take the document to your lawyer, or research online to make sure they’re not skipping any steps.
3. Keeping staff members motivated
Motivation is overrated. It’s fleeting. It fills your world when something wonderful happens, and when life doesn’t go as planned, it’s replaced with defeat and excuses. I’m not going out of my way anymore. What my boss just did was the last straw!
It’s impossible to keep people motivated. Like happiness, motivation is an inside job. External circumstances can influence a person’s level of motivation, but you can’t create it for anyone else.
To keep people motivated, you need to discover how to support them. People want to be treated as individuals, regardless of whether they’re on-site employees, remote workers, or contractors. Every person has different needs, and in our homogenized world many are afraid to ask for support that deviates from the expected norms.
Reach out to people you hire and ask, “how can I support you? Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?” Your willingness to support them will play a big role in how they generate motivation.
4. Creating the right incentives
Money isn’t a main motivator. In fact, an MIT study found that using money as a motivation for cognitive tasks is an impediment. When a person’s basic financial needs are met, only three things motivate them: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Your incentives need to center on those three things. Purpose gives people passion. They want to know their work is a contribution to your company. They want to know their work makes a difference, and they’re not just doing busywork.
5. Providing genuine acknowledgement for a job well done
Forget about automatically mailing out engraved awards every 5, 10, or 20 years of employment. People don’t want to be recognized for their length of employment. They want to be acknowledged for their specific contributions to the team and your company.
Instead of handing out generalized awards, take the time to recognize each person you hire for something specific. Make sure you recognize them for something they feel connected to. For example, don’t recognize your accountant for always being on time. Acknowledge them for their attention to detail and their willingness to fix mistakes quickly.
Above all, be flexible and allow people to make mistakes. Be willing to train, retrain, and coach. That’s the key to creating a strong, loyal team.