Every employer knows that being surrounded by great employees is a crucial component of business success. Your employees are the ones who create, write, design, produce, fabricate, and share your business’ proprietary material, whether you’re an advertising agency, a toy company, a social media startup, or a doctor who has several local offices in your practice.
Your employees are your business’ brand ambassadors, too, as they work with vendors, clients, patients, or other businesses in your industry. Others will learn more about your business from them; in fact, this interaction could be a deciding factor in whether they choose to continue to work with you or recommend that others partner with you. You want employees who love what they do and what your company does. You want employees who bring their unique skills, experiences, and knowledge to work every day in order to grow, innovate, and make your business better than ever.
That’s important to us, too! KnowledgeForce is in the business of helping you and your employees develop new skills, deepen existing ones, and gain the skills it takes to help your employees and your business continue to succeed.
We’d like to share with you some ideas about developing your talent so that they are able to meet new goals and objectives that will contribute to their confidence, happiness, and creativity. Ultimately, it’s your people that will help your business continue to evolve and be an industry-leader.
Talent development starts with the recruiting and hiring process. You want to make sure you find and bring the right people into your organization. Inc. summarized findings from to HireRight’s 2017 employment screening benchmark report: 85% of employers caught applicants fibbing on their résumés or applications, up from just 66% five years earlier. One way to combat being misled by a resume is with a great interview process.
Remember that prospective employees are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them; they want to make sure that the job is the right fit as much as you do. To get the interview off on the right foot, you want to:
A job candidate is likely nervous and is focused on attempting to make a great impression, so whatever you’re able to do to help them relax will go a long way. Give them a tour of your entire office, if possible; let them get a feel for the overall environment of where they’ll be working, and introduce them to any employees that you meet. Once you’re in the interview space, offer them water and help them get settled.
Hold yourself to the same standards to which you hold your employees. Make sure that you clearly explain the interview process, as well as your expectations from them in the role that you’re interviewing them for. Don’t gossip or complain about colleagues or other companies in your industry. Be on time to the interview. If the interview is going to last several hours and involve discussions with multiple people, if possible, give the candidate the schedule beforehand, so they know what to expect and can prepare. Their preparation will benefit you both during the interview process.
Your candidate will likely have done research before the interview—on the company, you, and anyone else mentioned in the job announcement with whom they’ll be working on a regular basis. You should do your homework, too. Chances are the candidate has a LinkedIn profile; you should make sure to review it well in advance of your interview, in addition to any portfolio or work products that you’ve requested.
Be prepared to ask the candidate about overlaps between their previous work or interests and the company. Candidates are able to talk with more ease about themselves, so when you notice connections between work they have previously done and what they’ll be doing at your company, bring those up! It signals to the candidate that you are actually interested in talking with them, too!
Being professional and prepared are all ways that you show a candidate respect. Listening to their responses and responding thoughtfully also demonstrates your interested and invested in your discussion. Candidates expect that you will have a set list of questions that you want to ask but can still tell if you are just “going through the motions” of an interview. If they say something unexpected that piques your interest, follow up!
Soft skills are becoming more important than ever, and an interview is the first opportunity that you’ll have to assess those of your candidates. These interpersonal skills are crucial for successfully interacting with colleagues, leadership, clients, patients, vendors, and the professional network in your industry. Make the most of your time with your candidates to pay attention to these hard-to-quantify but crucial competencies.
If you have done your preparation before an interview and know a bit about the candidate’s work and other achievements, that will come across in your interview. If you treat them with respect and communicate that you’re genuinely excited about their work, they will reciprocate that enthusiasm and it will be a part of the work that they do at your company.
Even if you do not end up hiring them now, it’s possible that a new position to which they are better suited will be available down the road. They may also learn about another area of your company during the interview process and might decide to tell a friend whom they think might be a good fit to keep an eye out for potential openings.
Avoid being judgmental, egotistical, gossipy, or expecting that the candidate should be putting forth more effort during the interview process. If you give a candidate your best self during an interview, they will be more likely to reciprocate in kind, and you’ll be more likely to spot and then hire, the best talent out there!
Recognize the value of onboarding, too! Whether you’re a small company with a few employees or a huge multinational corporation with several thousand, onboarding matters. And, everyone has to be onboarded—whether you’re hiring a new employee for the front desk or for the big office with a great view: Every employee, no matter their position, is new. They need to be shown the ropes. Onboarding isn’t complete until an employee is completely familiar with your company’s culture, goals, products and services, and is comfortable with their role.
The process actually begins as soon as you hire someone—and the first 90-days are critical. Even before they step foot into the office, while you get their space ready–you’ll also want to be in touch with them with any useful information you think they’ll need to know to be more comfortable when they start. Are any other company changes going on that they’ll need to know about? Are you holding an “all employee meeting” a few days before they start that they might to join? You want new hires to feel part of the company even before they are on the payroll.
There are many steps that you can take to develop talent within your workforce. It’s important to know that currently, at 35%, Millennials comprise the largest portion of the workforce in the United States, and they want their employers to offer opportunities for career development.
That’s great news! Talent development should be an on-going, evolving process. Having employees who are excited about the opportunities that you provide will go a long way to making that development enjoyable, appreciated, and successful. Being an invested leader, or having an invested board, is also crucial.
We’re all motivated by attempting to reach goals (and succeeding). You want to create goals that are relevant to your employees. Get input from leadership, but also talk to your front-line employees. What do they feel are good benchmarks to achieve in their current roles? Those goals should also be measurable and attainable within a relatively short period of time, say quarterly. We also like instant (or near-instant) gratification. Knowing that a goal can be achieved in a few months makes it worth striving for, as opposed to one that will take half a year or longer to possibly meet.
You should also update those goals regularly. Maybe it becomes apparent that a goal is no longer relevant. Scratch it and create another one. Or, maybe it’s better suited for another employee later. Monitor and reward employee progress. If employees know that you are invested in their success—and in them as individuals, not just in what they are doing for the company’s bottom line—they will be more likely to continue working toward other goals, no matter how complex they might become over time. Employees want to be challenged, but they also want to know that the work they are doing personally and professionally matters. They like understanding how it connects to the big picture and vision and provides value.
You’re likely to be hiring one of the Millenials who wants to be challenged, engaged, and grow at work. Harness that and use it to your advantage. Start a mentorship program (if you don’t already have one) and pair new employees with ones who have been at the company for a long time. The new employee will benefit from the seasoned employee’s experience, expertise, and intimate understanding of how the company works.
Hold “lunch and learn” opportunities where employees or experts on industry topics come in and have an informal discussion and Q&A session with current employees. Make time for employees to attend professional development activities outside of the office or send them to industry conferences (after which they can share their new knowledge during a lunch and learn).
Even better, organize training yourself! Maybe after talking to employees, you discover that there are certain skills they’d like to master or opportunities they’d like to explore that are relevant to their work. Maybe while setting goals, you realize that a group of employees are all struggling with similar tasks or operations. Partnering with an outside training firm is a great way for your employees to work together to hone those skills or gain that experience and information. Outside training firms are experts in creating the ideal content for you and your employees.
Performance reviews should be held more than once per year. Establish a schedule to meet with your employees so that feedback and development are both formal and, and informal.. One idea is for reviews to correspond to the dates by which employees should have reached particular goals or objectives.
You shouldn’t sugar-coat a review or feedback, but the focus of the review shouldn’t be to shame or belittle an employee. When you give feedback be sure it is a result of a specific situation that you directly observed or experienced.The aim of the review should be to strategize to improve or continue to improve. Remember: you care about employee development and the only way for them to grow is to know specifically how and why it’s important.
Ask questions like, “What can I do to help you?” “What resources do you need? “What skills would you like to work on?” “What can you start doing to …” and “What can you stop doing to…” More frequent check-ins make the process less anxiety-producing, allow for goals to be adjusted as necessary, and for employers and employees to be on the same page about the work the employee is doing, and what work they’ll do next.
When you invest in employee development, you’re creating the future leaders in your company, but in the meantime, you’re developing employees who are becoming better at their jobs, and more efficient, meaning that your business operations will likely improve. Engaged employees want to be at workand they want to work well and hard and leverage their talents and success to help your company succeed. KnowledgeForce can work with you to develop the training that you need in order to help your employees maximize their potential.
Are you launching a new product or service soon? Congratulations! While the department in charge of development might be up to speed, is everyone else? Remember, all of your employees are your ambassadors. Clients, vendors, and other industry leaders, not to mention potential new customers are going to be calling to ask about it.
You’ll want to make sure that all of your employees are prepared to talk about it and explain why your new product or service is one that they or their business needs to grow, too. You don’t want anyone to be caught off-guard.
KnowledgeForce can work with you on developing training for employees that is focused on understanding, promoting, and celebrating your new product or service. We’re excited to work with you on your new venture and to help your employees be its best ambassadors. Contact us today!