Hiring and retaining good employees is one of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs. The task becomes all the more daunting in the absence of a brand or high revenue figures. Attracting talent is not just about getting people to work for you, it is about a long-term relationship that will help your business grow. Therefore, it becomes all the more important that you make your hiring and retaining process a fun activity, instead of a mundane job. This can happen if you are ready to share more than you hide. Here is how you can do it:
- Communicate Vision: Jobs are a plenty but visions are few. Here's your chance to talk to your prospective employees about your vision, the change that you want to bring about with your product or service, and where you see your startup five or ten years down the line. Your first few employees are like your first customers, and whether you succeed in getting them on board or not has a lot to do with the vision you share with them.
- Show Value: A value proposition is a two-way street. You, as an entrepreneur, add value to the product or service that is delivered to the customer, and to your employees, by making them a part of your success story. Your employees, in turn, add value to your startup by offering their ideas, skills, and time. Tell your prospective employees about what value you would bring to the table and what you expect from them. It is only when value adds to the vision that the latter turns into reality.
- Share Passion: If you are really passionate about your startup, it will appear in your voice, your expressions and in the way you present yourself. This passion can have a great influence on your employees and on those who you might consider hiring. Everyone wants to have a boss who is motivated and passionate about her work. You can make a lot of difference by sharing your passion with others, making your team more productive.
- Be Honest: Don't make false promises about compensation, bonuses, profit-sharing, or even working conditions. If you can only offer a PC, don't promise a laptop. Big promises can only get someone to join your venture but will not make her stay for long. Don't hesitate about talking of the limited resources that you can offer. It is better than living with the fear of losing a good employee. Most people appreciate honesty and will respect you and support you during your bootstrapping years.
- Promise Learning: Most people don't leave jobs because they can't get more money but because they can't get more learning. Every employee of yours has the right to learn something new. It could be a skill or even a quote. Create a learning environment in your startup by encouraging employees to share knowledge. This is something that you can always offer to your prospective hires, and they will lap it up.
- Take Questions: Encourage your employees and prospective hires to ask questions. A curious mind is what every startup needs. You would be surprised at the wonderful questions that you might have to field. It could be a learning experience for you too, and sometimes you might even be forced to rethink some startup issues troubling you. So no gag orders. Instead, encourage a more open and frank discussion.
There is a saying that "people don't leave jobs, they leave managers." So you have to decide what kind of a manager you want to be. If you facilitate the environment of learning, transparency and honesty, you will soon find your employees sticking with you, even through rough times, because they will know that even if they fail to make big money, they will still make a better human being.
Share your experiences of hiring and retaining talent at your startup. Also, what is it that you employees get to learn while working with you or vice-versa?
Vimarsh Bajpai is a business journalist based out of New Delhi, India. He writes exclusively on Entrepreneurship and Small Business, and speaks and moderates panel discussions on issues relating to startups at various fora. Read more about Vimarsh here.