It’s not an easy job to keep top talents. Here are four pieces of advice for hiring, mentoring and keeping them:
1. Hire Based on Cultural Fit, Not Just Experience.
Building a great team is both the most challenging and most important part of building a great company. Hire the very best people you can find who demonstrate integrity, hunger and a good cultural fit. Life’s too short to spend long hours with people you don’t enjoy.
Every company culture is different and will evolve as the company grows. A truly great cultural fit is someone who earns the respect of his or her peers. The best way to determine whether someone is a good cultural fit is to have the courage to let more junior people in the organization interview them.
Task those team members with determining whether the candidate fits within the culture (however they perceive it to be), not just with assessing the candidate’s experience or skill set.
With a few exceptions, you should never hire complete strangers. Without shared contacts, it’s difficult to gauge whether the person will be a good fit. Encourage everyone to refer their highest-quality friends, regardless of whether their experience fits the job description.
Once you’ve hired the right people, give them the resources they need to be successful. Be sure to get out of their way unless they need a little gentle course correction or ask for help.
2. Ask, Listen and Mentor
As a mentor, the most valuable support you can provide is your time and undivided attention, even if giving that attention is difficult.
To give employees attention, you need to close the computer, put down the phone and really listen. This approach both shows your mentee that you’re committed to him or her and enables you to learn from listening to him or her.
Ask mentees in advance to identify the issues they’re wrestling with and why. This will save time by giving the mentor a starting point and a quick peek into how his or her mentee thinks. The only way you can lead someone down the path of self-discovery is to ask questions.
One particular challenge of mentoring occurs when the mentee doesn’t have a clear set of goals and comes looking for purpose rather than a solution. This kind of mentorship requires a greater investment.
Mentors and mentees need to make sure they’re on the same page before the actual meeting takes place. When mentors and mentees are in-sync, it produces a stronger conversation and more shared value in the long term.
3. Encourage Problem-Solving
As a manager, you wear two hats — solving problems, as well as teaching others how to solve problems themselves. Now, if the house is on fire, you should probably step in yourself and put it out. But, in the majority of non-emergency situations, it’s best to invest in teaching someone else to solve the problem. In these situations, questions are key.
For example, if an employee voices a problem, ask him or her to think of at least three possible solutions. Then, pick the one he or she thinks is best and explain why it works in that situation. This empowers him or her to think out his or her own problems, rather than handing him or her a solution.
It’s important to start building leaders as early as possible by giving people real responsibilities. This gives the executive team time to focus on new and emerging problems while helping the company scale.
It also encourages personnel and boosts professional development, which benefits everyone. While it can be scary to empower other people to make important decisions within your company, doing so is the best way to grow a company without falling into an ego trap that all decisions need to be made by you.
4. Set a Tone
The best way to inspire a team is to lead by example. Practice good sportsmanship in all of your actions as a leader, and provide real opportunities for ownership and accountability. Have an open door policy, and encourage people at all levels to come to you with their questions and concerns.
Once you get people talking, you can help them develop their own ideas and self-confidence. Not everyone will succeed in such a transparent environment, but you owe it to those who can to help them take ownership of their careers. Try to remember that each person on your team (senior or junior) is the chief executive officer of their own career.
The process of hiring the right people, nurturing their desires and empowering them to lead takes time and energy. We can’t be too busy for that. Building a team is the most important investment. Read more…