5 Simple Ways To Optimize Talent In A Small Business

By Nicole Carter | November 12, 2020 | Strategic Planning Resources

5 Simple Ways To Optimize Talent In A Small Business

With out years of industry experience we have encountered countless small and large business that forget the fundamentals of optimizing talent. Here are our 5 simple ways to optimize talent in a small business. Contact us today to get more details and start building out your people strategies.

1. Establish clearly defined roles and responsibilities

Not knowing exactly what you are responsible for can lead to a decline in performance and engagement.  Having clearly defined job descriptions, that include key responsibilities and required core competencies, provides a useful framework for your employees and your business.  It’s not that they are completely restricted to the items on the list, but it does set appropriate expectations. Clearly defined roles will effectively guide your employees in their day-to-day work and will also empower them to take initiative to go above and beyond.  When employees know what is expected of them they become free to thrive within an established framework.  You might even notice that they will complete tasks without seeking input or reassurance. 

This is a sign that they are fostering independence and resourcefulness.  Working independently is also an added bonus for managers, freeing up time in their busy agendas.  Providing clarity in the job description also helps employees set effective personal and professional goals.  Aim to integrate the job description, and its core competencies, in your performance management/appraisal process.  Ensure that you set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Sensitive ) goals that are clearly aligned with business objectives. This is an easy and quantifiable way to track output against expectations and also to provide opportunity for regular feedback and check-ins.  Keep the rhythm of accountability in motion and avoid any end of year surprises.

2. Make sure that you have the right person in the right job

Employees can underperform simply because they are not in the right role.  If you know someone is bright, but they are not shining, be careful not to write them off as a bad fit for you team.  Sometimes talented people are simply in the wrong role.  Lack of enjoyment and challenge can lead to decreased employee engagement.  Tune into your talent and do not be afraid to make job changes in order to get the right person in the right place. 

If performance begins to decline, establish clear and open communication with employees.  Ask them if they are enjoying their work and if not, ask how you can help.  A small business can often have the advantage of flexibility within their organization, allowing for job changes with less bureaucracy.  When there is alignment between skill and passion, employees excel.  No need to wait until the end of the year to start these discussions.  If you hesitate, you risk the resignation of a talented employee!

3. Provide opportunities for development

Think outside of the box!  Theoretical training is valuable, but it can be an expensive investment for a small business.  Do not dismiss the important practical training that happens daily while employees are on the job. Explore ways to strengthen and develop the skills required to help your business and employees succeed.   Cross-training is an effective and useful way to do this.  Not only does it increase your bench strength, but it helps foster positive interpersonal relationships when employees understand what their coworkers are responsible for.  Start small, plan for short periods of time, perhaps in hours that are quieter for the business.  With a well-established plan, this can be a very cost-effective way to spot, develop and reward talent within your team.

4. Know what your employees’ value

No question, base compensation is a major motivator for your employees, but what other perks of working for your business keep your talent happy?  Tap into your employees through listening or providing short, confidential surveys to find out what your employees value and what will help to keep them on your team.  Is it flexible work hours? A remote work location? Increased vacation time? Subsidized training courses? A gym membership? Look to diversify your perks in a way that aligns with your employee base.   Once you do, make sure that you communicate clearly what the perks are and how they translate into value for your employees.  The perks you provide, along with base compensation, make up your employee’s Total Reward package, which ultimately acts as great talent retention insurance.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Effectively, clearly, openly and frequently.  When it comes to keeping your talent happy, communication goes a long way.  Provide appropriate and timely feedback in addition to direct and open coaching to establish good performance management processes and reinforce good behaviours.  Share as much as you can about the goals of the business.  Make your information relatable to your employees and help them understand how their work has an impact on the success of the business.  Let them know what’s in it for them.  Share with them how success in the business correlates directly to success in their career. 

An important part of communication is sharing information, but another other important part is listening.  Provide opportunities for your employees to give feedback, either confidentially or openly if they feel comfortable doing so.  Find out what “effective communication” means to them.  Do they need more written information?  More verbal, in-person information?  If yes to either, at what cadence?  The key is to find the right balance and be consistent.  Lastly, be open to acting on the feedback and making changes, if necessary.  Striking the right balance here is another sure-fire way to keep your talent engaged and loyal.

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